Intisar Rabb, Interpreting MetaCanons

Season 1, Ep. 8

This special episode of Borderlines features Islamic legal studies and comparative and foreign law innovator Professor Intisar Rabb, talking about her leading research on shared methods of interpretation for textualists across different systems. The podcast builds upon ideas raised at the 2022 Irvine Tragen Lecture on Comparative Law at UC Berkeley School of Law.

Intisar A. Rabb is a Professor of Law & History and the faculty director of the Program in Islamic Law at Harvard Law School. She has published widely on Islamic law in historical and modern contexts, including the book Doubt in Islamic Law (Cambridge University Press 2015) and numerous articles on Islamic constitutionalism, legal canons, and the history of the Qur'an text. She has conducted research in Egypt, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere. In 2015, Professor Rabb and co-partners launched SHARIAsource – an online portal designed to provide universal access to Islamic law and history resources and galvanize research using AI tools.

In Episode Eight of Borderlines, listeners will learn about the history and resurgent use of legal canons – principles of interpretation that judges derive from common law and use when resolving issues unclear from the text alone – including their ancient role in Islamic law and modern application at the U.S. Supreme Court. Shared similar legal canons threading across systems with like linguistic features, known as metacanons, are broken down. Dialogue covers how statutory interpretation connects to civil and criminal legal systems, the dubious term “civilized nations” in international law, and battling stereotypes of Islamic law with new scholarly resources and coded data.

Borderlines from Berkeley Law is a podcast about global problems in a world fragmented by national borders. Our host is Katerina Linos, Tragen Professor of International Law and co-director of the Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law. In each episode of Borderlines, Professor Linos invites experts to discuss cutting edge issues in international law.

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