Smail, Daniel Lord. “La culture matérielle des pauvres à Lucques.” In La culture matérielle: un objet en question. Anthropologie, archéologie et histoire, edited by Luc Bourgeois, Danièle Alexandre-Bidon, Laurent Feller, Perrine Mane, Catherine Verna, and Mickaël Wilmart , 203-13. Caen: Presses universitaires de Caen, 2018.
CSSH has been host to an impressive gathering of essays on the cultural and historical aspects of law. During the last decade, we have published influential pieces on Islamic law, on states and their jurisdictions, on spaces beyond the law, on legal practitioners, criminals, police, and prisons. Here we invite four CSSH authors—Judith Scheele, Daniel Lord Smail, Bianca Premo, and Bhavani Raman—to talk about law as a kind of evidence, one that tells us about other aspects of social life. In many of our best essays on law, it would seem that legality is shaped by something else, and the point of analysis is to understand how law interacts with a second or third factor. It might be gender, community formation, material culture, or ideas of power and truth. Often, law does not account for as much as it should. The analyst has access to a rich body of legal documents, but in treating them as evidence, it turns out that these materials point to (or belong to) discursive fields that are above the law, or beyond it, or that simultaneously call for and contradict legal decisions. The special relationship between legalism and other modes of interaction can be pervasive, even formative, without being easy to model or understand.