1st Edition

Subversive Legal History A Manifesto for the Future of Legal Education

By Russell Sandberg Copyright 2022
    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    Provocative, audacious and challenging, this book rejuvenates not only the historical study of law but also the role of Law Schools by asking which stories we tell and which stories we forget.

    It argues that a historical approach to law should be at the beating heart of the Law School curriculum. Far from being archaic, elitist and dull, historical perspectives on law are and should be subversive. Comparison with the past underscores: how the law and legal institutions are not fixed but are constructed; that every line drawn in the law and everything the law holds as sacred is actually arbitrary; and how the environment into which law students are socialised is a historical construct. A subversive approach is needed to highlight, question, de-construct and re-construct the authored nature of the law, revealing that legal change on a larger scale is possible. Far from being archaic, this recasts legal history as being anarchic.

    Subversive Legal History is not a type of Legal History but is its defining characteristic if it is to be a central part of Law School life. It describes a legal method that should not be the preserve only of specialist legal historians but rather should be part of the toolkit of all law students, teachers and researchers.

    This book will be essential reading for all who work and study in Law Schools, proposing a radical new approach not only to the historical study of law but also to the content, purpose and ambition of legal education. A subversive approach can revolutionise Law Schools providing a more ambitious legal education which is grounded in the socio-legal reality, helping to ensure that today’s law students are better equipped to be the professionals and citizens of tomorrow.

    1. The Trouble with Law Schools;
    2. The Problem with Legal History;
    3. Subversive Legal History;
    4. The F in Feminist Legal History;
    5. The Perils of Periodisation;
    6. Counterfactual Legal History;
    7. The Parallel World of Legal Geography;
    8. We are all Legal Historians Now;




    Russell Sandberg is Professor of Law at the School of Law and Politics at Cardiff University. His research interrogates the interaction between law and the humanities with particular expertise in Law and Religion and Legal History. He co-edited the multi-volume Law and History – Critical Concepts (Routledge, 2017) and is co-editor of Routledge’s Transforming Legal Histories series, which this book launches.

    "There is no need to be a legal historian to sign up to a subversive legal history approach. This book is for the curious, the bored, those seeking a thought-provoking springboard for learning and teaching conversations in law schools. …Subversive Legal History is the first in a series of volumes under the umbrella of "Transforming Legal Histories". If this is an indication of what is in the pipeline, then readers are in for a treat. It is refreshing to have something that doesn’t tread a well-worn pedagogical path. …As an excellent addition to the book, Sandberg is conducting one-to-one discussions with legal historians as part of a series on YouTube: "Subversive Symposium". These conversations extend the premise of the book, offer an accessible way for staff and students to learn more, and offer a catalyst for alternative futures to excite and enthuse the next generation of law students. Even if you are not a legal historian, in fact especially if you are not, there is much to recommend this book as a provocation for change."

    Helen Rutherford

    (2022): Subversive legal history: a manifesto for the future of legal education, The Law Teacher, DOI: 10.1080/03069400.2022.2075110


    "The ground-breaking nature of Subversive Legal History: A Manifesto for the Future of Legal Education, is epitomised by it being shortlisted for this year’s Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) socio-legal theory and history book prize. The author of the book, Russell Sandberg, is a prolific legal scholar. He is a leading figure-head in the establishment of law and religion as a topic of study in legal education, who has become prominent in the field of legal history… .Sandberg’s book potentially marks the end of legal history in law schools, as we know it."

    Amy R. Codling (2022): Subversive Legal History: A Manifesto for the Future of Legal Education, Legal Pluralism and Critical Social Analysis, DOI: 10.1080/27706869.2022.2084592

    “The book Subversive Legal History: A Manifesto for the Future of Legal Education by Professor Russell Sandberg has gained an impressive reputation in a short period of time, including being shortlisted for the Socio-Legal Scholars Association Theory and History prize (2022).  In terms of writing style, I was entertained throughout by Sandberg’s effortless wit.”

    Nick Cartwright, `A Good Read’, Frontiers of Socio-Legal Studies, 17/01/2024