Considered as regimes of interpellation, history and law separately and jointly observe and insist upon realities often antagonistic to distinct realities that arise from their alternate incarnation as memory and right. Because it exists at the intersection of history and law, legal history has a responsibility to resolve, or at least reveal, these cross-purposes. This essay summarizes the development of the field of legal history and reviews the origins of its current leading sector, critical historicism. Using examples from Australian Native title jurisprudence, it argues that critical historicism cannot meet its responsibilities. The essay points elsewhere, to philosophies of history that may perform better.


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