MPI for Legal History and Legal Theory

MPI for Legal History and Legal Theory

The researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory (formerly Max Planck Institute for European Legal History) study the historical forms of law in a global-historical as well as comparative perspective, and legal theory in a multidisciplinary context. Central issues are the constitution, legitimation, transformation and practice of law, with particular attention being paid to positioning historical forms of ‘law’ in the context of other normative orders. The establishment of a department engaged in developing a multidisciplinary legal theory in 2020 substantially expands the Institute's engagement with issues of legal theory.

The Institute considers its most important task to consist in engaging in theoretically reflected historical research in the field of law and other forms of normativity in order to make a specific contribution to fundamental research in legal scholarship, the social sciences and humanities.

Contact

Hansaallee 41
60323 Frankfurt am Main
Phone: +49 69 78978-0
Fax: +49 69 78978-169

PhD opportunities

This institute has no International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS).

There is always the possibility to do a PhD. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Department Historical Regimes of Normativity

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Department Multidisciplinary Theory of Law

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Department European and Comparative Legal History

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"The rainforest in Brazil is one of our greatest goods"

An interview with Raquel Sirotti, doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute For European Legal History, about the environmental policies of the Bolsonaro government

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“More and more women are making themselves heard”

The battle for women’s rights in Brazil is entering a new round

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Ruling with the help of pragmatic literature

How clerics used simple rulebooks to establish the new legal order in Spanish America

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New web presence for Minerva-FemmeNet

Mentoring programme of the Max Planck Society launches new website

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For the past 70 years, the German Basic Law has guaranteed the independence of judges, whose decisions are “subject only to the law.” But aren’t there other influences at play? Legal scholars Konrad Duden from the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg and Jasper Kunstreich from the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt am Main have researched this question and come up with some astonishing answers.

The Europeans have plenty of experience of dealing with crises. If we take a look at the history of the community of European states, one thing becomes clear: more or less heated controversies have been a regular occurrence over the decades. However, it has always been possible to find strategies for overcoming them, as the team headed by Stefan Vogenauer at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt/Main is finding out in the course of its research. During the process, the researchers have also gained new insights into the current state of the European Union.

The Spanish Conquistadors found it surprisingly easy to conquer the New World. However, it required more than violence and cruelty to rule the territory. A team of researchers headed by Thomas Duve at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History is investigating the media through which the Spanish crown consolidated its dominion. Meanwhile, an international research group led by Carolin Behrmann at the Max Planck Institute for Art History in Florence is studying the importance of images in the consolidation and legitimation of law with a focus on Early Modern European history.

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Glocalizing Normativites

2019 Duve, Thomas

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence

The existential challenges currently facing the world – climate change, migrations, pandemics – can only be met through global cooperation. But are we able to agree on global rules? – The study of history reveals the fundamentals of an international language of law on which we can draw. Centuries-long encounters between peoples from all over the world, often tragic and characterized by violence and asymmetries, resulted in processes of cultural translation and localization of normative knowledge. The aim of the project “Glocalizing Normativities” is to better understand these mechanisms.

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The project at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History investigates the history of transnational criminal law with a focus on cross-border political crime, extradition, asylum and police cooperation. One research question is how current problems of transnational criminal law can be explained in terms of legal history.

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Decision-making cultures in the legal history of the European Union

2017 Bajon, Philip

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence

European Union history was characterized by an underlying process of legal integration. At the same time, member state governments increased their political control of the integration process. In this context, the so-called “Luxembourg Compromise” of 1966 established an informal veto right in the European Communities. Member states claimed “national interests” to avoid a vote. Political and legal debates over the veto right crystallized different conceptions of European Union and their change over time.

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The aftermath of Westminster: Decolonisation and state-building in Asia at the end of the British Empire

2016 Kumarasingham, Harshan; Vogenauer, Stefan

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence

State-building and constitution-making in Asia are closely linked to the colonial past of the region and to the reception of the British parliamentary system. British law encountered local or regional traditions. To what extent did these encounters differ from each other? Who were the main persons involved? Sir Ivor Jennings played a vital role in shaping the constitutions of states like India or Malaya. The project on “The aftermath of Westminster” at the MPI for European Legal History enquired how this process unfolded in various places.

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Regulated self-regulation from a legal historical perspective

2015 Collin, Peter; Duve, Thomas

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence

“Regulated self-regulation” – this term is well known from the discussion in administrative law during the last years, at the same time it became a customary notion in debates in political science and sociology. However, it can also be used as a valuable concept for analysis in legal history. It usually incorporates types of social self-organization or participation that (also) serve the fulfilment of public purposes and are embedded in a state regulatory framework.

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