Research Field

Law and Diversity – Perspectives from Legal History

The tension between justice in general and as applied to particular cases counts among the basic experiences of any normative order. As legal history can testify, this tension is cyclical and witnesses repeated attempts at resolution through institutional arrangements and special protection regimes.

The legal system of continental Europe is based on the principle of equality. Even today, there is acute interest in how law reacts to demands of special consideration for individual and group particularities. These features relate to cultural diversity, but also to the justification of economic and socio-political differences. Part of the discussion relates to concrete changes in substantive or procedural law, but questions also arise as to whether and how long our legal system, which is based on equality, can meet these challenges while preserving its basic structure.

The Special Research Field Law and Diversity – Perspectives from Legal History includes projects that seek to contribute with legal-historical expertise to this process of reflection.  This occurs primarily in two branches. The first branch, Law and Diversity: Experiences in Legal History, is devoted to the questions of whether, how and to what extent legal systems based on equality are able to meet the challenge of diversity from the perspective of legal history. This entails placing the current situation in a longer historical context. Various historical regulatory regimes and ordering projects from different eras and regions are investigated to determine how they accommodated individual and collective modes of living. The second branch, Law and Diversity in Latin America Today: The History of Regulation and the Role of History, focuses on the region of Latin America and analyses the relevant Latin American debates to enrich deliberations in transnational legal discourse about the legal orders of diverse societies. Historicising pertinent debates is one emphasis in addition to questions of how images of history are used in these debates and how historical situations and arguments contribute to the deliberative process.


Research Projects

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