Friday, April 7, 2017

Habermas on Thieves in Germany

An English-language version of Thieves in Court: The Making of the German Legal System in the Nineteenth Century by Rebekka Habermas, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen has come out, translated by Kathleen Mitchell Dell’Orto. The original German version was published in 2008. From Cambridge University Press:
Thieves in CourtFrom the seemingly insignificant theft of some bread and a dozen apples in nineteenth century rural Germany, to the high courts and modern-day property laws, this English-language translation of Habermas' Diebe vor Gericht explores how everyday incidents of petty stealing and the ordinary people involved in these cases came to shape the current legal system. Habermas draws from an unusual cache of archival documents of theft cases, tracing the evolution and practice of the legal system of Germany through the nineteenth century. This close reading, relying on approaches of legal anthropology, challenges long-standing narratives of legal development, state building, and modern notions of the rule of law. Ideal for legal historians and scholars of modern German and nineteenth-century European history, this innovative volume steps outside the classic narratives of legal history and gives an insight into the interconnectedness of social, legal and criminal history.
Praise includes:

"In a brilliant study of 'jurisdictional politics', Rebekka Habermas delivers a fresh and sophisticated account of the social grounding, cultural performance, and public staging that shaped a reformed legal system in the wake of the 1848 revolutions. Challenging not only the celebratory liberal story of the progressive march of the rule of law but also the social historian's class-based critique of the rule of property, she derives the rise of 'the modern legal order' from an elaborate process of cultural conflict and everyday transactions." -Geoff Eley

Full information is available here