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■ Legal Audiovisual
Archives Database
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Change Survey Database
Legal Audiovisual Archives Database


The Legal Audiovisual Archives Database project is a sub-project of the Taiwan Database for Empirical Legal Studies (TaDELS).  Spearheaded by National Chung-Cheng University Department of Law Professor Kuo Shu-chin, this one-year project aimed to reflect Taiwanese legal culture through dynamic visual content. This database differs from the other database offering visual content (warning sign images, etc.) in that it focuses on video, with special attention to Taiwanese Chinese-language movies and documentaries about law and life, or those which otherwise hold significance for law.  It aims to strengthen the role of legal research in the uncovering, documenting and analysis of social issues in Taiwan.  At present, it contains 232 entries, which are browsable by type, length and date.  While it does not offer online viewing, the database references audiovisual materials which depict legal phenomena in order to promote empirical legal research and as well as educational use.

The methods and amount of material available for legal research are ever increasing, promising to shed new light on the phenomenon of reception in Taiwan.  Over the course of its modern history, Taiwan has received a massive amount of legal knowledge from other legal systems.  A legal cultures research orientation may read depictions of law in popular media such as television and movies as texts in the analysis of legal knowledge, leading us to focus on manifestations of law in popular culture, cultural legal studies, and the law and society scholarship.

In American legal scholarship, the study of law and visual studies and law and film have been placed under the rubric of cultural studies.  This sort of legal research characteristically reads these audiovisual materials as texts and employs the methods of cultural studies to analyze courtroom plotlines and the various agents in judicial fora (judge, defendant, lawyer, victim, etc.)  Visual studies legal research reveals the phenomena of law as it stands in contemporary America.  That is, it seeks to uncover and interpret law-related institutions and phenomena such as popular conceptions of justice, legal norms, mores of the legal professional (the institutional cultures of large law firms, district attorneys, coroners, etc.), judiciary culture (courtroom confrontations, juries, etc.), and others as they seem too the masses.

Chen Kuang-hsing has observed that while the nascent field of cultural studies in Taiwan has yet to cut a clear profile, it is certainly a rising force in the academy.  Indeed, Taiwanese visual and cultural studies have in recent years witnessed a profusion of research papers, with topics as varied as history, gender, marginalized groups, and professionals in modern society.  The creation of law-related audiovisual archives seems not only an excellent means of documenting the rule of law as a symbol of modernity in contemporary Taiwan, but may moreover provide a significant forum and catalyst for exchange among those engaged in interdisciplinary legal research.

Empirical legal studies has garnering increasing respect among scholars in the Taiwanese legal academy.  At the same time, there has also been a diversification in the research areas, topics, and methods of the study of law.  New empirical endeavors have challenged disciplinary boundaries.  Even as we continue to receive Western law, there is a growing trend to seriously examine native legal cultures; the effort to archive Taiwanese Chinese-language audiovisual materials depicting legal phenomena is a response to these currents in the contemporary legal academy.  This database provides vivid visual and audio materials for basic legal research, empirical research, and interdisciplinary research, thus enriching the field of empirical legal studies.  And, judging by the development of the study of legal cultures and socio-legal studies in the United States, the creation of archives of law-related audiovisual materials could have a significant impact on the tradition of legal scholarship in Taiwan.
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