Publication Details

M. Leiboff, 'Ghosts of law and humanities (past, present, future)' (2012) 36, The Australian Feminist Law Journal 3-17.


This introductory essay teases out the ghosts of a Law and Humanities Past to find an unlikely candidate as an advocate for a relationship between law and the humanities: Sir William Blackstone. In contemplating what constitutes Law and Humanities Futures, it is apparent that law has forgotten about this past, and has created an imagined present for law, absent the humanities. In introducing the special issue on Law and Humanities Futures, the essay weaves the story of Otto Kahn- Freund and the concept of Bildung or 'formation' with Kahn-Freund's advocacy-using Blackstone-for its importance in the training of lawyers. In drawing upon Goethe, Yes Minister, and the Oxford of the 1950s and 1960s and Nazi Germany, this account humanises the humanities through Kahn-Freund, a refugee German Jewish labour lawyer, in order to make the claim that the humanities are fundamentally aligned with the civil and civilising. However, to dissociate the human from humanities can lead to the uncivil and inhumane. Drawing upon history and various modes of culture, the essay asserts that Bildung lights a path for law through the intersections and interdisciplines that constitute and shape the humanities in their broadest conception, of the human, of the civil, and the civilising-those concepts and ideas that we can see in and of the past and present-and to reveal what might be missing from law and humanities futures.