Law Text Culture


J. Chenoweth


In Asking the Law Question Margaret Davies launches border raids on the "isolationist mentality" of the law which mystifies its own specificity and insists on the law's separateness from other forms of knowledge and practices. Davies' fascination with parameters, borders, boundaries and constraints manifests itself textually as a constant play of multiple insides and outsides. She confronts the law's exclusiveness by challenging its systematic exclusions, and she tests the limits of her own inclusion within the law by dispensing with its traditional distinction between what is appropriate in a legal textbook and what is not. Davies' border-crossings - her (parenthsized) lighthearted banter, her candid admissions, her stories, her eclectic sources, her minimal use of cases, her determination not to baffle and not to bore, her meticulous conceptual unpicking, and her endless questioning - distinguish her text from the legions of soporific law books which collect dust in law libraries. Here is a volume students might actually put down before they nod off. This is a pedagogical tour de force, considering Davies is cross-pollinating legal theory with post-structuralism and deconstruction, all of which are conceptually dense and complex fields.