The research projects gathered in this research field seek to study the different ways in which law was produced and reproduced in different geographic areas and local contexts that were under the influence or came into contact with the Iberian empires during the early-modern and modern period. This covers the imperial components of the Iberian monarchies in Europe (Italy, the Netherlands) as well as the overseas territories that span across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.
Although conquest and colonization brought along catastrophic consequences for the inhabitants in the Americas, Asia and Africa, the imperial experience also set forth a complex process of normative production. The need to justify imperial expansion required the development of normative concepts. Religious actors, jurists, and other agents participated in this process. But changes in normative production were also happening on the ground. Complex processes of translation and redefinition started when the ius commune, canon law, Castilian and Portuguese law began to interact with vernacular practices and pre-existing local legal traditions, such as Chinese, Japanese or Islamic law. The task of this Research Field is to investigate, in a long-term perspective, several junctures in this history and to develop tools to understand the processes of normative production in different cultural contexts. Through the analysis of archival sources, legislation, pragmatic literature, social norms, moral theology, doctrines of canon law and the ius commune, the research field focuses on far-reaching questions about law in a global-historical perspective. Some of these questions are, for instance: how governance worked across vast territories; how did various normative orders interact; which are the uses and transformations of different normativities in local contexts; what kind of legal knowledge guided the legal practices; which media, resources, traditions and institutions were privileged in certain situations; how was this legal knowledge selected, transmitted, updated and shared in certain epistemological communities. In all, these questions concern a decentralized perspective of understanding the processes of cultural production of law.
Research and PhD projects
Projects of former MPI researcher
Teaser: Cantino planisphere (1502), Biblioteca Estense, Modena, Italy, © Wikimedia Commons