Legal history of Latin America
The legal history of Latin America – at least since the beginning of the European expansion across the Atlantic – is closely linked with the history of Europe. Normative orders shaped in a European environment were transplanted or locally reproduced, that is to say, modified and amended. The encounter with strange peoples and religions, the far remove at which they found themselves from Europe and vast distances between places on a new continent that was only slowly surveyed presented jurists with new challenges. Europe, too, changed as did its concept of law. The debates surrounding human rights and political theory that arose from the scholastic rationalism of the 16th and 17th centuries are well known. However, the effects of broadening horizons were by no means limited to these questions.
The church, too, and church law found a new continent awaiting. Religion was a movens of this expansion, religious law the foundation of the early modern legal culture that took root in the overseas territories of the Spanish crown. The actors and institutions in this religious field played a definitive role in the formation of normative concepts. The experience gained in a global dimension was ultimately not without effects on church law itself.
Even after the declarations of independence in the first half of the 19th century, communication with Europe was not broken off – far from it. The Latin American codes of penal and civil law developed in the republican era exhibit complex links with those of many European states – no longer just with Portugal or Spain. France, Italy, Germany and Belgium became important reference points for the emergent systems of law.
Research Projects in Research Fields
Discussion group Ibero-Amercian Legal History
Contact person at the Institute is Dr. Benedetta Albani ( )
Conferences and Events
German – Argentinian – Brasilian Graduate School
The anual German – Argentinian – Brasilian Graduate School is co-organized by the Max-Planck Institute. The first took place from 25th to 28th of April 2011 at the Instituto de Investigaciones de Historia del Derecho (Buenos Aires). The next one will be held in 2012 in Brasil.
Seminar: New fields of investigation in the history of eclesiastical institutions and indian canon law in Latin America (16th to 19th century)
The Max-Planck Institute for European Legal History calls for a seminar on " New fields of investigation in the history of eclesiastical institutions and indian canon law in Latin America (16th to 19th century)". The seminar is directed to young researchers and takes place every year in a different Latin-American country.