The description of legal books as ‘rare’ invokes a sense of romance: the preservation of fragments of previous centuries, in specialist archives and libraries, awaiting discovery by the assiduous scholar.
Associate Professor Ann Genovese's work concerns telling Australian law stories of the past 60 years, and her archival adventures have been far less romantic, but raise urgent problems.
In a time of open access, the notes, books, documents, records, court files and transcripts created closest to our own time should exist in robust proliferation, and enable myriad stories to be told about developments in our law and public life. The reality is that they might be better described as precarious, or vulnerable. Many are of uncertain status or dispersed location; others have already been sentenced.
In her talk, Ann will reflect on two recent projects, ‘Lives Lived with Law’ and the ‘Court as Archive’, as both anchor around how Australian public institutions might understand their custodial responsibilities for contemporary law sources. In doing so, she will also contemplate her own scholarly obligations when conducting such research, and why it is she cares about these rich and irreplaceable materials, and the diverse Australian stories of living with law that they tell.