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Plausible Crime Stories

Book description

Plausible Crime Stories is not only the first in-depth study of the history of sex offences in Mandate Palestine but it also pioneers an approach to the historical study of criminal law and proof that focuses on plausibility. Doctrinal rules of evidence only partially explain which crime stories make sense while others fail to convince. Since plausibility is predicated on commonly held systems of belief, it not only provides a key to the meanings individual social players ascribe to the law but also yields insight into communal perceptions of the legal system, self-identity, the essence of normality and deviance and notions of gender, morality, nationality, ethnicity, age, religion and other cultural institutions. Using archival materials, including documents relating to 147 criminal court cases, this socio-legal study of plausibility opens a window onto a broad societal view of past beliefs, dispositions, mentalities, tensions, emotions, boundaries and hierarchies.


'This remarkable book, by one of Israel’s leading legal historians, explores the fascinating history of sex crimes in mandatory Palestine. Innovative and theoretically sophisticated, it is a must-read for historians of law, but also for anyone interested in the social and cultural context in which the law of evidence, and criminal law, are embedded.'

Assaf Likhovski - Tel Aviv University

'Darr’s masterful study of evidence law in Mandate Palestine decouples absolute truth from knowledge derived through its social context. With keen awareness of the differences among British colonials and Arab and Jewish subjects, she shows how sexual offenses pose particular challenges to courts. What we consider fact is often simply a legal presumption.'

Steven Wilf - University of Connecticut

'This is a deft historical case study of the law in action in a colonial context with broad significance. Based on court records relating to sexual offences during the British Mandate in Palestine, Darr examines colonial and local attitudes to sex and its regulation in a multicultural situation and shows that whether evidence and narratives are accepted as plausible is intimately related to the local political, social and religious context.'

William Twining - University College London

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