AALL 2015 Recap: Customary and Religious Law Interest Group Meeting

By Susan Gualtier

Front page of CARLIG flyer distributed at FCIL-SIS Exhibit Hall table.

Front page of informational flyer distributed at the FCIL-SIS Exhibit Hall table.

The Customary and Religious Law Interest Group (CARLIG) met on July 19 at 11:30 as part of the FCIL-SIS Jurisdictions Interest Groups Joint Meeting. The group briefly discussed the year’s progress, which included acquiring approximately 35 members in My Communities, developing several programming proposals for the 2015 conference, and publishing an article in AALL Spectrum describing the group’s formation, purpose, and goals. The majority of the discussion then focused on 1) improving communication with the group’s membership in order to generate better response to the My Communities posts; 2) increasing the number of blogging and book review opportunities on customary and religious law topics and soliciting participation by the group’s members; and 3) developing and prioritizing additional projects for the coming year.

CARLIG intends to continue proposing conference programming, and brainstormed a few ideas for the 2016 conference. The group discussed the possibility of putting together a panel of librarians and researchers who are currently working on comprehensive online portals or printed bibliographies of religious law resources. Kelly Buchanan, of the Library of Congress, also shared some preliminary information relating to an Islamic law program to be held at the Library of Congress in December. The group discussed potential opportunities for collaboration between CARLIG and the Library of Congress staff, which has been working on increasing the number of available customary law and religious law resources.

In addition to planning substantive programming, the group decided that CARLIG’s primary focus over the upcoming year should be to create teaching/research toolkits for customary law and for each of the major religious law systems. The purpose of these toolkits will be to encourage more librarians to incorporate customary and religious law research into their FCIL research classes or their presentations in substantive law classes. CARLIG will also work on some of the ideas proposed at the 2014 conference, including creating bibliographies of core resources for use in collection development, and identifying the major library collections in customary law and in each of the major religious law systems.

Schedule of FCIL Events in Philadelphia

Blog Postcards 2015Hello FCIL-SIS!  Are you ready for Philly?  We at the publicity committee certainly are!  We have swag for the exhibit hall ready to go, and we’re looking forward to seeing all of our SIS friends again next week!

As we approach the 2015 AALL Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, we encourage you to keep an eye on the blog and to follow us on Twitter for coverage of FCIL-SIS programming both during and after the conferenceIf you are interested in covering any of the events listed below, please contact blog administrators Susan Gualtier (susan.gualtier@law.lsu.edu) or Loren Turner (lturner@law.ufl.edu).  Finally, remember to send us your original photos from the Philadelphia conference so that we can share them with our readers who were unable to attend!

FCIL-SIS EVENTS

2015 AALL ANNUAL MEETING, PHILADELPHIA

Saturday, July 18

9:30am – 4:45 pm

Researching the European Union (University of Pennsylvania Law School)

5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Exhibit Hall Ribbon-Cutting/Opening Reception. Stop by the FCIL-SIS table!

Sunday, July 19

11:30 am – 12:45 pm

AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers: Researching International Agreements other than Article II

Treaties (PCC-Room 104A)

FCIL-SIS Jurisdictions Interest Groups Joint Meeting (Marriott-Grand Ballroom Salon C)

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Cross-Border Disputes: Dissecting the International Investment Arbitration (PCC-Room

201BC)

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Designers’ Workshop: Subject Guides that Create the Effect You Want (PCC-Room 103BC)

5:15 pm – 6:00 pm

FCIL-SIS Foreign Selectors Interest Group (Marriott-Room 306)

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

FCIL-SIS Internships and International Exchanges Committee (Marriott-Room 310)

FCIL-SIS Publicity Committee (Marriott-Room 308)

Monday, July 20

7:15 am – 8:30 am

FCIL-SIS Business Meeting and Breakfast (PCC-Room 110AB)

3:15 pm – 4:25 pm

FCIL-SIS Teaching Foreign and International Legal Research Interest Group (PCC-Room

112A)

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm

FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians Fundraising Committee (Marriott-

Conference Suite 2)

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians Recipient Presentation (Marriott-Grand

Ballroom Salon D)

5:45 pm – 6:45 pm

International Attendees Joint Reception (AALL/FCIL/IALL) (Marriott-Grand Ballroom Salon

IJ)

Tuesday, July 21

8:30 am – 9:30 am

Mighty MT: Enhancing the Value of Machine Translation Tools for FCIL Reference and

Collection Services (PCC-Room 103BC)

12:30 pm – 2:00 pm

LHRB/FCIL-SIS Roman Law Interest Group: Researching the Corpus Juris Civilis (PCC-Room

105A)

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

FCIL-SIS Education Committee (Marriott-Grand Ballroom Salon B)

FCIL-SIS Electronic Research Interest Group (PCC-Room 104B)

Philadelphia_skyline_sunset

Book Review: Sharia and the Making of the Modern Egyptian: Islamic Law and Custom in the Courts of Ottoman Cairo, by Reem A. Meshal

By Angela Hackstadt

sharia bookReem A. Meshal. Sharia and the Making of the Modern Egyptian: Islamic Law and Custom in the Courts of Ottoman Cairo. (The American University in Cairo Press, 2014). 290 p. Hardbound, $75.00.

Sharia and the Making of the Modern Egyptian: Islamic Law and Custom in the Courts of Ottoman Cairo examines the sijill (the complete records of a judge or court) as a historical text where Ottoman state law, local custom, and Islamic legal theory intersect. According to Meshal, legal scholars have neglected the study of these documents and “an unfortunate consequence of this neglect has been the inhibition of research into legal theory and legal praxis and their osmotic influence on one another in a given political setting.”

Before the Ottomans, the concept of “court” was embodied in the person of a judge and held in any number of venues. Under the Ottomans, courts became fixed locations and, for the first time, legal documents became mass-produced and centralized. Judges were required to turn over their sijills to a professional archivist, who linked the documents to the court and the public archive. The rise of bureaucrats like professional archivists, notaries, and court experts meant that the authority of the written document would come to outweigh that of oral testimony.

Civil documents pertaining to things like personal disputes, property disputes, and marriages were given the status of “authoritative legal proof.” This impacted the autonomy of the individual by virtue of the citizens’ access to these records. Documents housed in an archive provided a static record that could be accessed under certain conditions; however, a copy of a document that could be carried or distributed would grant rights to the holder in the public sphere. “More than the archive, therefore, it is the millions of individual documents contained within it that provide the textual footprints of an ‘early-modern individualism,’ or proto-citizenship.”

The author’s focus on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Cairo matters because of the heterogeneous nature of the city’s population during a time when the state sought to harmonize state law with sharia. Meshal’s book discusses custom, state law, and Islamic jurisprudence without falling back on the Western binary of religious-versus-secular. She admits Western influence on the Empire but concludes that important developments were established prior to this influence. The author builds her arguments from sijills and other primary sources, as well from a variety of secondary sources. Chapters are organized by topic, with topic subdivisions including a concise chapter conclusion. This is a well-researched book and I recommend it for academic law libraries, particularly those that serve Sharia or Ottoman scholars.

Film Review: Invoking Justice

c834By Susan Gualtier

In my spring 2014 FCIL research seminar, I explored the idea of using documentaries to provide a visual representation of unfamiliar legal systems. One of the films that I chose to screen was Deepa Dhanraj’s 2011 documentary, Invoking Justice. The film was very well received by the students and led to several interesting group discussions, both during class time and on the course website. Student feedback strongly suggested that they found the film enjoyable, that it helped them to understand how religious (and, to an extent, customary and mixed) legal systems work, and that it encouraged them to think about how one might research legal issues or handle cases arising under these systems.

Invoking Justice focuses on a specific type of legal tribunal in Southern India, where family disputes are settled by local tribunals called Jamaats. These tribunals, which apply Islamic Sharia law, are made up entirely of men. Not only are their cases decided by men, but women are not permitted to be present at the Jamaat meetings and therefore have no opportunity to defend themselves or to present their side of the dispute. Invoking Justice follows a group of women who, recognizing the discriminatory nature of the all-male Jamaats, formed a women’s Jamaat in 2004 where local women could settle their family disputes or report discriminatory treatment by the traditional male Jamaats. By the time the film was made, the women’s Jamaat had already settled more than 8000 cases, “ranging from divorce to wife beating to brutal murders and more.”

The film suggests, though not overtly, that the women’s Jamaat functions not only as a tribunal, but also as an enforcement mechanism and advocacy organization. Its members are shown approaching male Jamaat members to questions their tribunals’ decisions and processes, and using the police force to compel male defendants to attend women’s Jamaat sessions when they do not take the tribunal seriously. Dhanraj follows several of the Jamaat’s cases from beginning to end, which helps to unify the film and provides a narrative element. The film also portrays the power that comes with open communication; the women’s Jamaat has been a galvanizing force for women in the region, and groups of women are shown in animated discussions of topics that would previously have been considered taboo in a public forum.

Invoking Justice is entertaining and visually appealing, and provides an excellent insight into how one form of local tribunal might operate. It also illuminates substantive issues relating to family law and women’s human rights under religious and customary law systems, and addresses issues of discrimination not only in the law itself, but in the procedural practices of the tribunals, the application of the law, and the enforcement of the tribunals’ judgments. Because there is no prerequisite to my FCIL research seminar, I have found that, by necessity, it must serve as a crash course in international law and world legal systems in addition to developing the students’ research skills. Having searched for a film that would entertain the students while at the same time illustrating the issues surrounding religious law, customary law, and informal tribunals, I found that Invoking Justice was an excellent choice. Invoking Justice is distributed by Women Make Movies and can be purchased from their website. My study guide for the film is available online through SlideShare.

Exploring the World of FCIL Resources at the Global Law Resources Fair

By Amy Flick

The Global Law Resources Fair, sponsored by the Teaching FCIL Research Interest Group at AALL in San Antonio, offered demonstrations of print and electronic resources on foreign and international law.  For a librarian who has few of these resources in her own collection, or who just hasn’t seen them all, it was a great chance to peruse publications away from the Exhibit Hall.

Demonstrators at each table were able to answer questions and point out interesting publications. At Catherine Deane’s table, the topic was Research Guides, and she started a lively discussion on assigned texts and readings for Foreign and International Legal Research classes. Marci Hoffman demonstrated new electronic resources, including improvements to the Foreign Law Guide, with new headings and links to make the database easier to use.

I made notes of titles to recommend to my library for purchase as I went around the room, including textbooks, citators, and several books on Jewish and Islamic law. Even when I wasn’t shopping, I enjoyed getting to see resources that I use regularly in their online versions but not in print form, including official gazettes, the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, and some interesting historical works at Lucia Diamond’s Religious Law Resources table.

The Global Law Resources Fair was a nice break from the formal programs at the AALL annual meeting, and I found it to be a great educational opportunity. My thanks to Neel Agrawal and the LA Law Library for making their materials available to FCIL-SIS, and to the table demonstrators who shared their time and expertise with the group.

CARLIG Holds Inaugural Meeting in San Antonio

By Susan GualtierIMG_3427

The new Customary and Religious Law Interest Group held its very first meeting this weekend in San Antonio! We are very excited to report on the meeting and to encourage all of you to join us in this new endeavor.

As a preliminary matter, the members who attended the meeting decided to keep the current name and the acronym “CARLIG.” We also decided that all group communications should take place through the My Communities group to whatever extent possible.

The group then spent the remainder of the meeting discussing potential projects on which to work in the coming year, as well as ideas for programming proposals for next year’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. The group decided to work on developing bibliographies or collection guides containing “critical resources” that every library should have in building a minimum core collection. Collection guides will be created for the different religious law and canon law systems, and for customary legal systems and customary law in general. The second project on which the group would like to work in the coming year is to identify the major collections in each area of interest.

With regard to programming, it was suggested that because the group’s interests are somewhat esoteric, we may want to focus on ideas for informal programming, such as coffee talks and book discussions, in the event that our formal proposals are not accepted. The group agreed that this was an excellent idea and will watch for interesting books and discussion topics around which to build informal programming in Philadelphia. The group also discussed ideas for formal programming, including topics that may lend themselves to collaboration with other AALL groups, such as the Legal History and Rare Books SIS. Because of next year’s location in Philadelphia, which is close to Amish and Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania, the group intends to develop a proposal addressing the accommodation of religious minorities in larger communities. Other ideas included programs on teaching customary law research in FCIL research classes, family law and/or women’s rights issues in mixed legal systems, the resurgence in witchcraft accusations in a number of customary law communities in different parts of the world (as well as a potential tie-in with similar accusations occurring in Louisiana and Florida Haitian voodoo communities), and medieval customary laws in Europe and their influence on modern laws and legal systems.

After meeting on Sunday, the group reported its activities at the FCIL-SIS business meeting on Monday morning, which seemed to generate even more interest in the new IG. We hope that more AALL members will join our roster and share their ideas for projects and programming. As chair of the new group, I will be contacting everyone who has expressed interest over the next few days so that we can get the ball rolling on developing our projects and programming proposals. I will also be creating a forum in which we can all share our ideas and work to develop our programming proposals. In the meantime, if you wish to participate or to follow the group’s activities, please join our My Communities group to receive notifications as they post. We look forward to sharing our interests with the AALL community.

Introducing the FCIL-SIS Customary and Religious Law Interest Group!

The FCIL-SIS is excited to announce the formation of a brand new Interest Group just in time for the Annual Meeting in San Antonio. Currently going by the name of “CARLIG” – an acronym for “Customary and Religious Law Interest Group” – this new IG will provide a forum for AALL members interested in the research and study of all types of customary, tribal, religious, and canon law systems.

CARLIG will hold its inaugural meeting on Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 7:00 AM in Marriott Rivercenter-Salon C, as part of the FCIL-SIS Subject Groups meetings. We will discuss leadership and group structure, future projects, potential programming proposals for the 2015 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, and much more. Given the many FCIL-SIS members who have already expressed interest, the new IG is sure to gain traction and provide us with a forum to discuss and work on projects relating to these often overlooked areas of foreign law.

Whether you already specialize in religious or customary legal systems, have a work-related or “extracurricular” interest, or simply want to learn more about what they are, we encourage you to join us for our meeting in San Antonio!  For additional information, or to be added to our membership list, please contact Susan Gualtier at susan.gualtier@law.lsu.edu and join our My Communities group to receive notifications relating to future projects and events.

 

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