Organized Panel Session
This panel investigates the role of conflict and contestation in the evolution of Japanese law. Whereas a static theory of law examines the norms that regulate human behavior, a dynamic theory of law attends to the role of human behavior in the creation, reconfiguration, or enforcement of legal norms. Studying the law in motion rather than at rest, the papers in this panel examine four distinct episodes in Japanese history using inter-disciplinary approaches drawn from legal philosophy and anthropology, literature, and history.
Jinno’s paper takes up the role that the governed (the Shogunate’s own appointees and common people) played in the reconfiguration of medieval Japanese legal codes. Selinger’s paper uncovers the sly contestation of vicarious punishment codes in a medieval Nō play, positing a role for literature in the critique of legal norms. Okazaki’s paper turns to the management of social life in colonial Korea by examining how Korean litigants proactively translated native “customs” into Japanese legal terms to gain favorable judgments in matters of intimate and personal law. Finally, Shimizu’s paper examines the conflict between the etic perspective of “modern dietary needs” and the emic perspective of “defilement” in the laws regulating the construction of slaughterhouses in Meiji Japan. Taken together, the four papers see law as a key terrain for contestation, contestation that shaped legal codes and judgments even as it made law an immanent force in arbitrating procedural matters (land disputes and imprisonment) as well as cultural concerns (pollution and social customs.)