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Friday, May 27, 2016

CFP: Policing the North American Borderlands

via H-Law:

We solicit proposals for an edited volume entitled Policing the North American Borderlands. This volume will trace the development of state regulation and policing practices along the US-Canada and US-Mexico borders, as well as their impacts on border people during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Although war and diplomacy established borders on paper, policing made boundaries into borders and in some cases barriers.  We seek papers that examine how policies and state apparatuses create and regulate national borders and how this impacts communities which cross international divides.  We ask for papers that explore how particular legal codes and regulatory practices have attempted to define and delineate the parameters of the state; how citizenship is defined in both law and in practice; and how state regulatory apparatuses monitor and police flows of goods and people across international divides.  This book is centered on two key questions: how has the state (at the federal, state, provincial, and local levels) attempted to regulate and police people and goods at their actual borders; and how have local communities responded to, been shaped by, and/or undermined particular policing objectives and practices?
Too often, studies and discussions of the US-Canada and US-Mexico borders happen in isolation from one another.  Policing the North American Borderlands will therefore place analyses of policing practices along the northern and southern borders into direct conversation with one another.  We are especially interested in papers that take a comparative and connective approach.  How have states implemented policies and practices along the contested terrain that makes up each border region?  How do concepts of race, ethnicity, gender, and power shape interactions along these borders?  By examining the history of policing North America’s borderlands comparatively, we hope not only to trace the development of very different national borders but also shed light on contemporary border security concerns.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
  • The creation of borders and nation-states as legal entities.
  • Historical analyses of agencies tasked with regulating and policing national lines.
  • Vigilantism, extralegal, and unofficial forms of regulating border regions.
  • The history of immigration regulation in the US, Canada, and Mexico.
  • Fugitives and legal ambiguities along the borders.
  • Alcohol prohibition and its impact on border communities.
  • The extension of border policing beyond actual physical border regions.
  • Native and local communities’ interactions with federal, state, and regional state agencies.
  • The War on Drugs and its effects on border policing and border communities.
  • Smuggling at the US-Canada and US-Mexico borders.
  • The impact of shifting racial and ethnic ideologies on policing practices.
  • Contested notions of 'violence' in the borderlands.
  • The relationship between border policing, immigration policies, and the rise of mass incarceration.
  • Regulating gender and sexuality at national boundaries.
  • Human rights activism and efforts at reshaping policing policies.
  • Militarizing national boundaries.
  • Cultural representations of border policing in film, television, music, and print media.
  • The impact of 9/11 on policing practices.
Interested authors should submit a two-page CV as well as a 500-800 word abstract.  Abstracts should detail how the paper will engage with issues of policing in the borderlands, as well as key arguments and methodology.  Abstract proposals are due by August 31, 2016.  If accepted, the full paper will be due by February 1, 2017.  Please send proposals as well as any queries to

Holly M. Karibo is an assistant professor of borderlands history at Oklahoma State University. Her book, Sin City North: Sex, Drugs, and Citizenship in the Detroit-Windsor Borderland was published as part of the David J. Weber Series in New Borderlands History at The University of North Carolina Press (2015).
George T. Díaz is an assistant professor of borderlands and Mexican American history at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.  His award winning book, Border Contraband: A History of Smuggling across the Rio Grande, was published with the University of Texas Press (2015). 
Contact Email: 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Shilton, Empty Promises: Why Workplace Pension Law Doesn't Deliver Pensions

New from McGill-Queen's University Press, by
Elizabeth J. Shilton,

Empty Promises

Why Workplace Pension Law Doesn’t Deliver Pensions
This is not a legal history per se, but there is a lot of legal history in it. Here's the publisher's blurb:

Workplace pensions are a vital part of Canada’s retirement income system, but these plans have reached a state of crisis as a result of their low coverage and inadequate, insecure, and unequally distributed benefits. Reviewing pension plans through a legal and historical lens, Empty Promises reveals the paradoxical effects and inevitable failure of a pension system built on the interests of employers rather than employees. 

Elizabeth Shilton examines the evolution of pension law in Canada from the 1870s to the early twenty-first century, highlighting the foreseeably futile struggle of legislators to create and sustain employees’ pension rights without undermining employers’ incentives. The current system gives employers considerable discretion and control in pension design and administration. Shilton appeals for a model that is not hostage to business interests. She recommends replacing today’s employer-controlled systems with pensions shaped by the public interest, expanding mandatory broad-based or state-pension systems such as the Canada Pension Plan to generate pensions that respond to the changing workplace and address the needs and interests of retirees.

Engaging with the long-running debate on whether Canadians should look to government or to the private sector for retirement income security, Empty Promises is a crucial work concerned with the future of the Canadian retirement system.

Friday, May 20, 2016

An Online Platform for Exploring the Canadian Parliamentary Debates from 1901 to Present

(via Christopher Moore)

Announcement from of interest to Canadian Legal Historians: 

An Online Platform for Exploring the Canadian Parliamentary Debates from 1901 to Present

The Official Report of Debates, or "Hansard," is a detailed transcription of the discussions in the Canadian House of Commons. Spanning more than one century and a half, it touches upon almost any issue that has moved public opinion since Confederation. As a crucial part of Canada's heritage, the "verbatim" record of the parliamentary debates are relevant to researchers, activists, and journalists alike.
The sheer size of the Hansard has posed a challenge, however. It contains over 650 million words, plus translations of the text into the other official language, which made querying its contents a significant needle-in-haystack problem.
Over the past decade, advances in machine intelligence and computing power have opened up opportunities to explore and navigate such huge amounts of text data. Digitization of the parliamentary record started in the 90s when the Library of Parliament began publishing the latest debates online. In 2013, Canadiana and the Library of Parliament partnered to scan the entire historical proceedings from 1867 to 1999 and release them as a searchable digital archive (the Canadian Parliamentary Historical Resources).
In 2013, a group of political scientists, computer scientists, and historians at the University of Toronto set out to structure and enrich this data by adding semantic annotations. The began by identifying the building blocks of the debates—agenda points and speeches—and associating speeches with biographical data. 
To make the data accessible to a wide as possible audience, this group, an online platform that allows users to query and explore the enriched Hansard from 1901 to present. The interface was designed to be modern, accessible, and user-friendly for both researchers and the general public.
Future development planned for the site includes interactive data visualization apps, expansion of the database to include French language debates, senate, and provincial-level debates, and aggregation of supplementary Canadian political data such as polling results and news.
The social impact of this Linked Data project can be significant. The release of substantial quantities of digitized political texts opens the door to scientific research in a number of disciplines, for Canadian and international scholars alike.

CFP: First Nations, Land, and James Douglas: Indigenous and Treaty Rights in the Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, 1849-1864

Call for Papers: First Nations, Land, and James Douglas:
Indigenous and Treaty Rights in the
Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, 1849-1864

The Songhees Nation and the University of Victoria Faculty of Law and History Department
invite your participation in a conference on this theme
at the Songhees Wellness Centre, Victoria, B.C. February 24-26th 2017.

We anticipate that there will be tours of Songhees traditional territory by land and sea on
Friday the 24th before the first presentations and that the conference will include
a mix of academic and community presentations.

We welcome individual and panel proposals for presentations from researchers, legal
professionals, and community members, on topics including, but not limited to, the following:

1) Relations between First Nations and James Douglas
2) Indigenous and Colonial Concepts of Land, Law and Territory
3) Hunting and Fishing Rights
4) The End of Treaty-Making
5) The Roles of the HBC and the Colonial Office
6) The History of Douglas Era Reserves
7) Current relevance of these historical events.

Please send a 250-500 word description of the proposed presentation and a one page resume
or cv to any of: Cheryl Bryce <>; John Rice Jr.
<>; or John Lutz
Deadline for proposals is: June 21

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

CFP: Student Research Colloquium in conjunction with ASLH 2016 annual meeting in Toronto

Call for Papers:

The American Society for Legal History will host a Student Research Colloquium (SRC) on Wednesday, October 26, and Thursday, October 27, 2016, immediately preceding the ASLH’s annual meeting in Toronto, Canada.  The SRC offers a small group of graduate and law students an opportunity to work on their in-progress dissertations and law review articles with distinguished ASLH-affiliated scholars.  
The SRC’s target audience includes early post-coursework graduate students and law students interested in legal history.  The SRC seeks to introduce such students to the ASLH and to legal history communities more generally.  Students working in all chronological and geographical fields are encouraged to apply, as are students whose projects engage legal-historical themes but who have not received any formal training in legal history.  Applicants who have not had an opportunity to present their work at ASLH annual meetings or who have otherwise not had an opportunity to discuss their work with legal historians are particularly encouraged to apply. A student may be on the program for the annual meeting and participate in the SRC in the same year.
Each participating student will pre-circulate a twenty-page, double-spaced paper to the entire group.  These papers will provide the foundation for discussion at the colloquium.  The ASLH will provide at least partial and, in most cases, complete reimbursement for travel, hotel, and conference registration costs.  
To apply to the ASLH’s Student Research Colloquium, please submit:
  • a cover letter;
  • a CV;
  • a letter of recommendation from a faculty mentor/advisor;
  • a two-page, single-spaced “research statement,” describing an in-progress dissertation or law review article.

The application deadline is July 15, 2016.  Organizers will notify all applicants of their decisions by August 15, 2016.  Please direct questions and applications to John Wertheimer at the following e-mail address:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Adams, "The Dean Who Went to Law School:Crossing Borders and Searching for Purpose in North American Legal Education, 1930-1950"

(h/t Legal History Blog)

Eric M. Adams of the University of Alberta Faculty of Law has posted "The Dean Who Went to Law School: Crossing Borders and Searching for Purpose in North American Legal Education, 1930-1950" on SSRN. The article will appear in the Alberta Law Review.

Here's the abstract:

This article is about the making of modern legal education in North America. It does so with a case study of the lives of two law schools, the University of Alberta, Faculty of Law and the University of Minnesota Law School, and their respective deans, Wilbur Bowker and Everett Fraser, in the decades surrounding the Second World War. The article follows Bowker’s unorthodox route to Alberta’s deanship via his graduate training under the experimental “Minnesota Plan” – Fraser’s long forgotten effort to place public service at the centre of American legal education. In detailing an overlooked moment of transition and soul searching in North American legal education, this article underlines the personalities, ideologies, circumstances, and practices that combined to forge the still dominant model of university-based legal education across the continent. Highlighting the movement of people and ideas, this study corrects a tendency to understand the history of law schools as the story of single institutions and isolated visionaries. It also reveals the dynamic ways in which law schools absorbed and refracted the period’s ideological and political concerns into teaching practices and institutional arrangements. In bold experiment and innate conservatism, personal ambition and institutional constraints, and, above all else, faith in the power of law and lawyers, the postwar law school was born.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

David Fraser's Honorary Protestants:The Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867-1997, short-listed for CLSA book prize

honorary-protestantsDavid Fraser's Honorary Protestants: The Jewish School Question in Montreal,1867-1997an Osgoode Society publication, has been shortlisted for the Canadian Law and Society Association's book prize. The prize is given for the best book in law and society published in 2015, and will be announced at the Associations' Annual Meeting in Calgary, May 28th.

Section 93 of the Constitution Act 1867 guaranteed certain educational rights to Catholics and Protestants in Quebec, but not to anybody else. This study of the challenges, legal and otherwise, encountered by Jewish parents in educating their children in Montreal in the shadow of s. 93, will undoubtedly become the standard work on the subject. Faced with alternating periods of hostility and tolerance, the Jewish community of Montreal carved out an educational modus vivendi based on complex and continuing negotiations with the Protestant and Catholic school boards, the provincial government, and individual municipalities. Divisions within the Jewish community itself, with different groups alternating between cooperation and militancy, only added to this complexity. In the face of the constitution’s exclusionary language, all parties engaged in modes of informal normative ordering that were at times frankly unconstitutional, but unavoidable if Jewish children were to have access to public schools.  Bargaining in the shadow of the law, the parties made their own constitution long before the constitutional amendment of 1997 finally put an end to the Jewish school question.

Congratulations, David, and good luck!

Benjamin Geva, "Liability on a Cheque: A Legal History" on SSRN

Benjamin Geva of Osgoode Hall Law School has posted "Liability on a Cheque: A Legal History" on SSRN (IANUS 2015, MODULO JEAN MONNET, ISSN 1974-9805 ,Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 41, Vol.12:9 (2016) 


Cheques are old payment instruments widely used in various parts of the world. In the United Kingdom, they are governed by the Bills of Exchange Act (hereafter, the BEA or ‘Act’), as supplemented by the Cheques Act. As a rule, statutes in common law countries, and hence, their laws of cheques, are modelled on the BEA, though local variations may exist. A statute modelled on the BEA is in force for example in Israel and South Africa. Both are not pure common law jurisdictions. In Canada, cheques are governed by the federal Bills of Exchange Act, modelled on its English predecessor, which is in force also in the civil law province of Quebec. In Australia, cheques were excluded from the coverage of the Bills of Exchange Act, and are currently governed by a specific Cheques Act.