© Zentralbibliothek Zürich, K. E. Brashier; Vysotsky (Wikimedia); Dietmar Rabich (Wikimedia)


At the Käte Hamburger Kolleg “Legal Unity and Pluralism”, fellows from all over the world, together with scholars from Münster, examine the dynamic tension between legal unity and pluralism from antiquity to the present. We assume that legal pluralism has shaped societies of all epochs to varying degrees. At the same time, tendencies towards standardisation of law can be observed in all periods. We investigate the causes and ways of dealing with legal pluralism against the background of social change and cultural diversity.

As a common space for research and debate, the Kolleg brings together (legal) historians, as well as scholars of current law, ethnology, sociology, theological studies, literature, and Jewish and Islamic studies. The thematic range of the research projects comprises questions of ancient trade law, the royal power to pardon in late medieval France, legal pluralism in zones of cultural contact during colonialism, and current phenomena of “forum shopping”. Generally, the Kolleg is characterised by a plurality of disciplines and methods and contributes to a better understanding within the humanities.