2023 Penny Pether Prize Winner

The Lawful Forest: A Critical History of Property, Protest and Spatial Justice

By Dr Cristy Clark and Prof John Page

Cristy Clark and John Page’s monograph, The Lawful Forest, is an exemplary work of scholarship in law and the humanities. The Lawful Forest presents exceptional readings of property, protest, and geography in the common law through the concept of the forest. Thereby, Clark and Page prove an inventive, critical engagement with law, history, and place. From pre Norman England to the forest protests of the late 20th and early 21st century Tasmania and north-eastern New South Wales, and on to Thomas More’s Utopia, Sophie Cunningham’s City of Trees, and Richard Powers’ The Overstory, Clark and Page challenge assumptions about customary legalities of space, place, and the radical commons. The Lawful Forest is an invitation to understand the entwining of law and the forest, the lawful forest, as a material form of wider spatial narratives that contribute to a polyvalent discourse of property, protest, and spatial justice. This monograph is an incitement to imagine the long becoming of the lawful forest in our relationships with space and place. Clark and Page call forth and extend the field of law and the humanities by entreating us to open ourselves to the forest in a critical reappraisal of the spatial hegemony of the law.

2023 Penny Pether Prize Honourable Mentions

- Prof Rebecca Monson, Gender, Property and Politics in the Pacific (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

- Dr Timothy D Peters, A Theological Jurisprudence of Speculative Cinema: Superheroes, Science Fictions and Fantasies of Modern Law (Edinburgh University Press, 2022)

- For a creative work: Luis Gómez Romero and Desmond Manderson, Twenty Minutes with the Devil (Currency Press, 2022)


2021 Penny Pether Prize Winner

Earthbound: The Aesthetics of Sovereignty in the Anthropocene

By Dr Daniel Matthews

In this book, Daniel Matthews shows how sovereignty – the organising principle for modern law and politics – depends on a distinctive aesthetics that ensures that we see, feel and order the world in such a way that keeps the realities of climate change and ecological destruction largely ‘off stage’. Through analysis of a range of legal, literary, ecological and philosophical texts, this book outlines the significance of this aesthetic organisation of power and explores how it might be transformed in an effort to attend to the various challenges associated with the Anthropocene, setting the grounds for a new, ecologically attuned, critical jurisprudence. The Anthropocene thesis contends that human impact on the environment has become so extreme that the earth system as a whole has been tipped into a new state. This new geological epoch demands sensitivity to the forces that traverse human and nonhuman life, the geological, ecological and atmospheric.

2021 Penny Pether Prize ECR Winner

International Status in the Shadow of Empire: Nauru and the Histories of International Law

By Dr Cait Storr

Nauru is often figured as an anomaly in the international order. This book offers a new account of Nauru’s imperial history and examines its significance to the histories of international law. Drawing on theories of jurisdiction and bureaucracy, it reconstructs four shifts in Nauru’s status – from German protectorate, to League of Nations C Mandate, to UN Trust Territory, to sovereign state – as a means of redescribing the transition from the nineteenth century imperial order to the twentieth century state system. The book argues that as international status shifts, imperial form accretes: as Nauru’s status shifted, what occurred at the local level was a gradual process of bureaucratisation. Two conclusions emerge from this argument. The first is that imperial administration in Nauru produced the Republic’s post-independence ‘failures’. The second is that international recognition of sovereign status is best understood as marking a beginning, not an end, of the process of decolonisation.

2021 Penny Pether Prize ECR Winner

Law, Love and Freedom: From the Sacred to the Secular

By Dr Joshua Neoh

How does one lead a life of law, love, and freedom? This inquiry has very deep roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Indeed, the divergent answers to this inquiry mark the transition from Judeo to Christian. This book returns to those roots to trace the twists and turns that these ideas have taken as they move from the sacred to the secular. It relates our most important mode of social organization, law, to two of our most cherished values, love and freedom. In this book, Joshua Neoh sketches the moral vision that underlies our modern legal order and traces our secular legal ideas (constitutionalism versus anarchism) to their theological origins (monasticism versus antinomianism). Law, Love, and Freedom brings together a diverse cast of characters, including Paul and Luther, Augustine and Aquinas, monks and Gnostics, and constitutionalists and anarchists. This book is valuable to any lawyers, philosophers, theologians and historians, who are interested in law as a humanistic discipline.

2021 Penny Pether Prize Honourable Mentions

- Prof Kathy Bowrey, Copyright, Creativity, Big Media and Cultural Value: Incorporating the Author (Routledge, 2021)

- Prof Jennifer Balint, Dr Julie Evans, Prof Mark McMillan and Dr Nesam McMillan, Keeping Hold of Justice: Encounters between Law and Colonialism (University of Michigan Press, 2020)


2019 Penny Pether Prize Winner

Danse Macabre: Temporalities of Law in the Visual Arts

By Prof Desmond Manderson

The visual arts offer refreshing and novel resources through which to understand the representation, power, ideology and critique of law. This vibrantly interdisciplinary book brings the burgeoning field to a new maturity through extended close readings of major works by artists from Pieter Bruegel and Gustav Klimt to Gordon Bennett and Rafael Cauduro. At each point, the author puts these works of art into a complex dance with legal and social history, and with recent developments in legal and art theory. Manderson uses the idea of time and temporality as a focal point through which to explore how the work of art engages with and constitutes law and human lives. In the symmetries and asymmetries caused by the vibrating harmonic resonances of these triple forces – time, law, art – lies a way of not only understanding the world, but also transforming it.

2019 Penny Pether Prize ECR Winner

Figuring Victims in International Criminal Justice: The Case of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

By Dr Maria Elander

Most discourses on victims in international criminal justice take the subject of victims for granted, as an identity and category existing exogenously to the judicial process. This book takes a different approach. Through a close reading of the institutional practices of one particular court, it demonstrates how court practices produce the subjectivity of the victim, a subjectivity that is profoundly of law and endogenous to the enterprise of international criminal justice. Furthermore, by situating these figurations within the larger aspirations of the court, the book shows how victims have come to constitute and represent the link between international criminal law and the enterprise of transitional justice. The book takes as its primary example the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), or the Khmer Rouge Tribunal as it is also called. Focusing on the representation of victims in crimes against humanity, victim participation and photographic images, the book engages with a range of debates and scholarship in law, feminist theory and cultural legal theory. Furthermore, by paying attention to a broader range of institutional practices, Figuring Victims makes an innovative scholarly contribution to the debates on the roles and purposes of international criminal justice.


2017 Penny Pether Prize Winner

Masculinity and the Trials of Modern Fiction

By Dr Marco Wan

Marco Wan’s monograph, Masculinity and the Trials of Modern Fiction (Routledge, 2016), is an exemplary work of law and literature. In Wan’s layered reading of five obscenity trials in 19th-century England and France, this book realises some of the most vital aims of the field. Wan’s command of law, and of literature, enables him to appraise the reading practices and pretensions of each, and to illuminate the courtroom conversations that take place between them. Wan asks a question at the heart of law and literature, how does the law read not just the texts but the novels that come before it? He answers this question by attending not only to final judgment, but to an original archive of trial transcripts, prosecution and defence submissions and oral argument. Wan’s reading of law’s encounter with these novels as shaping and preserving hegemonic forms of masculinity deepens his argument and extends the already impressive reach of this book. This is an exceptionally meticulous and beautifully crafted text: alongside its contribution of the fields of law, literature and masculinity and gender studies, Wan prosecutes his case with clarity and authority, and with the pleasure of the reader in mind.

2017 Penny Pether Prize ECR Winner

Acoustic Jurisprudence: Listening to the Trial of Simon Bikindi

By Dr James E K Parker

James Parker’s Acoustic Jurisprudence takes as its archive the trial for genocide of the renowned musician Simon Bikindi at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Paying outstanding attention to his source material, and writing in a style which is always lucid and engaging, Parker mounts an ambitious case for the broader significance of technologies of sound—recording, radio-broadcasting and live performance—to questions of legal responsibility, thought, theory and practice. In its scope, diversity, and detail, Parker’s work reshapes the field of law and music towards what the author terms ‘acoustic jurisprudence,’ creating a bold and original contribution to law and humanities literature which will stimulate much work in the future.


2015 Penny Pether Prize Winner

Street Art, Public City: Law, Crime and the Urban Imagination

By Dr Alison Young

Street Art, Public City (Routledge, 2014) is the culmination of ten years’ work by an accomplished interdisciplinary scholar, and displays everywhere the elegance, the authority, and the intellectual agility earned over time. It casts street art at the centre of debates about public life, giving form to the ways in which it has both disrupted and renewed accounts of living in the city. The panel was impressed by the way in which the book’s theme addressed many disparate facets of public life, weaving a tapestry of law, aesthetics, criminology and ethics that has been persuasively enriched by oral testimony, public policy, art and textual criticism. Street Art, Public City, shows a keen sensitivity to the many different constituencies with which it seeks to open a conversation. It makes a distinct contribution to public scholarship in law, literature and the humanities, re-joining an investigation of the arts of political association to the arts of urban life.


2013 Penny Pether Prize Winner

Novel Judgements: Legal Theory as Fiction

By Dr William P MacNeil

Novel Judgements is a book about nineteenth century Anglo-American law and literature. But by redefining law as legal theory, Novel judgements departs from ‘socio-legal’ studies of law and literature, often dated in their focus on past lawyering and court processes. This texts ‘theoretical turn’ renders the period’s ‘law-and-literature’ relevant to today’s readers because the nineteenth century novel, when “read jurisprudentially”, abounds in representations of law’s controlling concepts, many of which are still with us today. Rights, justice, law’s morality; each are encoded novelistically in stock devices such as the country house, friendship, love, courtship and marriage. In so rendering the public (law) as private (domesticity), these novels expose for legal and literary scholars alike the ways in which law comes to mediate all relationships―individual and collective, personal and political―during the nineteenth century, a period as much under the Rule of Law as the reign of Capital. So these novels pass judgement―a novel judgement―on the extent to which the nineteenth century’s idea of law is collusive with that era’s Capital, thereby opening up the possibility of a new legal theoretical position: that of a critique of the law and a law of critique.