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Imagining the foundations of law in Britain: Magna Carta in 2015

Kayman, Martin A. ORCID: 2017. Imagining the foundations of law in Britain: Magna Carta in 2015. German Law Journal 18 (2) , pp. 363-398. 10.1017/S2071832200021994

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The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta offers a study in how the foundations of law have been visualized in the United Kingdom. The fact that the British sense of identity as a free nation has historically been based on its commitment to “unwritten” law means that it lacks a foundational text and has hence traditionally figured the law through a plurality of images without a core. The absence of a singular image on which to focus national identity became acute in the early twenty-first century as the multiplication of sources of legality and justice in a globalized and multicultural world put pressure on the United Kingdom’s sense of sovereignty. The tensions manifest in this crisis can be seen across a range of images produced for the anniversary, each bearing different values. Yet the rival narratives are able to coexist in the same commemorative space, their differences subsumed within Magna Carta’s status as a postmodern “icon,” the consecration of the reciprocal identification between the protection of liberty and the rule of law. The essay concludes by examining a court battle over land on the borders of the commemorative site, and another commissioned artwork, both of which, in their different ways, bring into view the boundaries and bonds imposed by the rule of law that the iconic image elides.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
ISSN: 2071-8322
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 December 2016
Date of Acceptance: 27 November 2016
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2023 08:05

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