Current Institutional Affiliation
Director of Programs, Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, University of Wisconsin / Madison

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2004
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Cornell University
Of Law, Society, and Justice: the judicial practices of the magistrates of the Parlement de Toulouse (1550-1700)

What do judges do? In my dissertation I will set out to address this question --crucial for understanding the relationship between law and society- from an historical and anthropological perspective. By combining an ethnography of the magistrates of an early modern French provincial court, the Parlement de Toulouse, with an anthropological approach to their professional activity from 1550 to 1700, I intend to illuminate the origins, workings, and effects of the particular practices judges deploy in order to mediate between the law, as produced by legislators, and society, as manifested through the daily conflicts of ordinary people. I will make use of the remnants of the judges' "fieldwork" --that is the drafts, memos, secret notes and reports, interrogations, and administrative correspondence exceptionally preserved in the archives of the Parlement de Toulouse­in order to ground a detailed analysis of the specific ways in which the magistrates of the Parlement identified, named, ordered, analyzed, discussed among themselves, and ultimately, judged the "facts" of the criminal and civil cases they treated. My analysis will situate the production of judicial practices, thus considered as a set of specific knowledge practices, at the intersection of two social worlds and horizons: that of the magistrates, studied as a particular professional group within the elite of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Toulouse, and that of the litigants, whose disputes and lawsuits I will approach as illustrations of the major social, political, and intellectual changes that took place in the French province of Languedoc during the early modern period. This particular approach to judicial practice, combined with a focus on this important period, will allow me to make contributions to both the history of early modern France and a growing field of studies on law and society that have hitherto focused on modem institutions and phenomena.