Research Focus Areas
In the four research focus areas integrative questions are created which are reflected upon theoretically and will be developed in close dialogue with the historical and empirical work of the individual research projects at the Institute. They deliberately avoid focusing on specific regions or periods – on the contrary. Thus links can be established with key research topics in the historical humanities, law and the social sciences. Thinking about these conceptual problems parallels the work in the research projects that are gathered in the institute's research fields. It is brought forward by workshops, reading groups, guest lectures and the formulation of common perspectives in working papers.
The fundamental question when dealing with ‘law’ concerns the relationship between what we call ‘law’ and other kinds of rules that influence behaviour and coordinate expectations but are not treated as ‘law’, such as moral and religious codes as well as technical and pragmatic instructions.
Communication about law takes place in time and space, both of which are key dimensions for legal history: law is (re)produced diachronically and synchronically. But what actually happens during this transmission, this transfer, this translation?
Conflict is not just a constant challenge for the law but also a key to access its history, because it reveals the normative options that the parties to the conflict realised. Local conditions and traditions as well as pragmatic contexts and the decisive authority of the law – that is, the living law
– can be revealed through conflict.