Global Legal History – A Methodological Approach

23 Pages Posted: 20 May 2016 Last revised: 15 Feb 2020

See all articles by Thomas Duve

Thomas Duve

Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory

Date Written: April-May 2016


Since the 1990s, the attempts to supplement the conventional, overwhelmingly national historiographical traditions via the introduction of a global dimension have been on the rise. In the meantime, a number of legal historical publications, articles, and even institutions have increasingly been making use of the term 'global'. The transnationalization of law as well as the rise of global history and global studies in general are having an impact on legal historiography. Since the world's legal systems are currently undergoing significant transformations, both the need for fundamental reflections about law and legal scholarship as well as a new call for long-term perspectives on a global scale has become clear. As a result, there is a growing demand for global legal history.

However, there is neither a consensus as to what global legal history is, nor as to what objectives this kind of legal historiography pursues, nor even as to where it is to be located in relation to other disciplines. The following article attempts to sketch out a general panorama and point to some of the central difficulties confronting global legal history.

Keywords: Global History, Legal History, Legal Method, Translation, Multi-normativity

Suggested Citation

Duve, Thomas, Global Legal History – A Methodological Approach (April-May 2016). Max Planck Institute for European Legal History Research Paper Series No. 2016-04, Available at SSRN: or

Thomas Duve (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory ( email )

Hansaallee 41
Frankfurt am Main, 60323

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