European Legal History - Global Perspectives: Working Paper for the Colloquium 'European Normativity - Global Historical Perspectives' (Max-Planck-Institute for European Legal History, September, 2nd-4th, 2013)
25 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2013 Last revised: 9 Feb 2020
Date Written: August 5, 2013
During the last decades, we have learned from authors like Helmut Coing, Franz Wieacker, Harold Berman, Peter Stein, Manlio Bellomo, Paolo Prodi, – to name but a few – that one of Europe’s major cultural achievements is its law, its unique legal culture. Europe, as is emphasized today not least in intercultural dialogue, or ‘the West’ have produced a wide range of cultural achievements that spread around the world: the rule of law, human rights, the differentiation between the realms of law and religion, codification techniques, etc. Yet, this historical self-reassurance has come under considerable pressure, not least through Global history, Postcolonial Studies, and Critical Legal Studies. Traditional European history is said to be Eurocentric, partial, incomplete and inadequate to the complexity of historical globalization. Even if we might not agree with this criticism: The discipline of ‚European Legal History’ has to consider these challenges. In the light of this criticism, we have to deliberate on fundamental questions about how we want to write European Legal History in the future.
In this working paper, I would like address basically three questions: Which conception of Europe does ‘European Legal History’ hold; is it still valid for us today – and (how) can this tradition be combined with global perspectives on history? – Ultimately, I argue that we are moving from a ‘European legal history’ to a ‘Legal history (of Europe) in a global perspective’ and indicate what the latter could look like.
Keywords: legal history, European Legal History, Global History, Transnationale History, Postcolonial Studies, Critical Legal Studies
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