Friday, November 4, 2011

Entanglements in Legal History

We have the following from the Max Plank Institute for European Legal History for the conference "Entanglements in Legal History: Conceptual Approaches to Global Legal History." As I read the call, the conference will be in Frankfurt at the end of August 2012, and it will be followed by another conference of legal historians in Lucerne on September 2-6, 2012.
Global History, World History, Imperial History, Atlantic or Pacific History: the variety of transnational historiography is growing ever larger. Still, in legal history, these global perspectives seem to be rare. There are some traditions of transnational legal historiography such as ‘European Legal History’, ‘Derecho Indiano’, or the history of the ‘Western Legal Tradition’, to name but a few. But legal historians have not yet taken up the challenge that lies in developing global perspectives on legal history, and getting more involved with the theoretical debates about the analytical tools to describe and analyze the complex processes of entanglement in Global History. Concepts currently discussed in this field - like ‘mestizaje’, ‘hybridisation’, ‘(g)localization’, ‘translation’ - could be fruitfully contrasted with established visions on entanglement processes in legal history or comparative law like ‘reception’, ‘transfer’ or ‘transplant’. Processes of normative entanglement within Europe could be contrasted with those observed in intercultural contexts.
In light of this, there seems to be an urgent need for a reflection on the analytical and heuristic value of such terms for legal history. It could lead to an understanding, or at the very least to a raised awareness of the images and models associated with these concepts but also of the epistemic risks inherent in the multitude of images and metaphors for the description and analysis of entanglement processes. The discussion of these questions appears all the more important given that the work of legal history does not only depend on the accuracy of its analytical instruments but that it could offer concepts developed from historic-empirical research to the discourse on global normative orders, especially in social and legal sciences.
Update: Please note the (much appreciated) explanation of the Lucerne conference by Otto Vervaart in the comments.