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Kolleg’s first annual conference to examine legal exception and plurality

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Taking place from 15 to 17 September, the Käte Hamburger Kolleg’s first annual conference will explore the relationship between legal exception and plurality. In doing so, it will address the question of how far the relationship between unity and plurality marks the same or a similar borderline as the relationship between rule and exception. Bringing together researchers from history, legal history, and anthropology, the international conference will mark the culmination of the annual theme “Exception and Plurality”.

Many exceptions to the law

The figure of the exception has a long tradition in law. The exigencies of day-to-day politics already shaped the law far more in ancient Rome than later codifications would suggest. In the estates-based societies of the Middle Ages and the early modern period, legislation was then based primarily on the granting of privileges to individuals or certain groups, these privileges being understood as exceptions to the rule-based common law. And, despite all efforts at systematisation, even law in modern times comprises a multitude of exceptions and special regulations.

A research question that is still open is how exactly, from a historical perspective, exceptions affected forms of legal pluralism or unity. “In the context of a conference that, like the Kolleg itself, is interdisciplinary and cross-epochal, it is impossible to achieve a comprehensive phenomenology”, emphasise the organisers and Kolleg directors Prof. Dr. Ulrike Ludwig and Prof. Dr. Peter Oestmann. “Instead, we aim at an intensive debate that may well be confrontational, but in any case should address open questions and conceptual problems”. Three sections are devoted to plural legal systems, legal and judicial practice, and the relationship between social diversity and legal pluralism. Lecture themes range from governance in a diverse society such as the Ottoman Empire, to early modern criminal policy in the Netherlands, and to how socially disadvantaged children in 20th-century Brazil are treated by the law.

More information and the programme of the annual conference can be found here.