Law's Documents : Authority, Materiality, Aesthetics book cover
1st Edition

Law's Documents
Authority, Materiality, Aesthetics

ISBN 9780367441517
Published December 30, 2021 by Routledge
388 Pages 56 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Illuminating their breadth and diversity, this book presents a comprehensive and multidisciplinary view of legal documents and their manifold forms, uses, materialities and meanings. In 1951, Suzanne Briet, a librarian at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, famously said that an antelope in a zoo could be a document, thereby radically changing the way documents were analysed and understood. In the fifty years since this pronouncement, the digital age has introduced a potentially limitless range of digital and technological forms for the capture and storage of information. In their multiplicity and their ubiquity, documents pervade our everyday life. However, the material, intellectual, aesthetic and political dimensions and effects of documents remain difficult to pin down. Taking a multidisciplinary and international approach, this collection tackles the question, what is a legal document?, in order to explore the material, aesthetic and intellectual attributes of legal documentation; the political and colonial orders reflected and embedded in documents; and the legal, archival and social systems which order and utilise information. As well as scholars in law, documentary theory, history, Indigenous studies, art history and design theory and practice, this book will also appeal to those working in libraries, archives, galleries and museums, for whom the ongoing challenges of documentation in the digital age are urgent and timely questions.

Table of Contents

PART I: WHAT IS A DOCUMENT?  1. Law’s Documents: Authority, Materiality, Aesthetics (Katherine Biber, Trish Luker and Priya Vaughan)  2. In Wood and Word, or, A Gloss on Documents and Documentation in the Humanities (Bonnie Mak)  PART II: AUTHORITY  3. When Records Speak we Listen: Conversations with the Archive (Jeanine Leane and Natalie Harkin)  4. Passport Struggles: Lawful Documents and the Politics of Recognition and Refusal (Sara Dehm)  5. What is a Bogus Document?  Refugees, Race and Identity Documents under Australian Migration Law (Anthea Vogl)  6. The Historian as Document Producer: A Candid Reflection on the Production of Oral History Timed Summaries (Jesse Adams Stein)  7. Forty-nine most common phrases (Alison Whittaker)  PART III: MATERIALITY  8. Law’s Signature Acts (Trish Luker)  9. Treaty Documents: Materialising International Legal Agreement (Jessie Hohmann)  10. Conjuring Documents: Informal Wills (Katherine Biber)  11. Powerful Documents from the Archive: Nyungar Letters and the Ancestors Words Project (Anna Haebich, Darryl Kickett, Marion Kickett, Anthony Kickett, Jeannie Morrison)  12. Material Violence: Destruction, Mishaps, and Redaction of Stasi Photographs (Donna West Brett)  PART IV: AESTHETICS  13. Artists and Legal Documents: Aesthetic, Witnessing, and Affective Power (Priya Vaughan)  14. The Rape Contract (Shevaun Wright)  15. The Aesthetic Archive: Appropriating Legal Documents in Visual Art (Carolyn McKay)  16. OA_RR: Documenting Sovereignty (Georgine Clarsen)  17. Historio-graphic: Knowledge Design Methods for Interpreting Documents (Anne Burdick, Jacquie Lorber-Kasunic, Kate Sweetapple)  18. Artistic License: Joan Kee interviews Carey Young


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Katherine Biber is Professor of Law at UTS, Sydney. Trish Luker is Senior Lecturer in Law at UTS, Sydney.