The EViR Blog

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Welcome to our blog!

The EViR Blog is an important communication channel for the Käte Hamburger Kolleg “Legal Unity and Pluralism”. Here we publish articles that deal with the dynamic tension between unity and pluralism in law – from a historical, jurisprudential, anthropological or literary analytical perspective. There are no disciplinary, geographical or temporal boundaries.

Most of the contributions come from fellows and research associates at the centre. They formulate theses and open questions, present sources and thus provide insights into their research process. Some contributions place current developments in their historical context. In addition, we occasionally publish interviews with the fellows about their research projects.

You would like to publish an article on our blog? Contact us at wiko.evir@uni-muenster.de.

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Did long-distance trade not have its own intrinsic logic?

In October 2022, the workshop "How to Ensure Predictability in Legal Pluralism" took place. The focus was on late medieval long-distance merchants in Northern and Central Europe who conducted trade under conditions of legal pluralism. Vera Teske summarises the most important discussions and discusses methodological challenges in the study of complex contexts of interaction such as pre-modern long-distance trade.

EViR Insights
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A Kolleg moves

Shouts echo through the long corridors, the two lifts are in constant use, and there is hustle and bustle everywhere. But Kolleg assistant Nadine Zielinski has everything under control and can ensure that each and every box ends up in the right office. When an entire Kolleg moves, and especially so when it moves from different locations, what are needed are organisational skills and meticulous planning.

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“Jurisprudence is a strong unifying factor in the Middle Ages”

Legal historian Susanne Lepsius is working on a general volume that is intended to introduce readers with no previous legal knowledge to the broad subject of “Law in the Middle Ages”. A conversation about the unifying effect that medieval jurists had, the practical challenges of editing glosses, and the status of law in medieval societies.

EViR Insights
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From exception to plurality?

Is the relationship between unity and plurality similar to that between rule and exception? And do exceptions lead to legal pluralism? Or is it rather exceptions that are needed to create and maintain unity? These questions, and thus the overarching theme of the previous two terms, were the focus of the first annual conference of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg “Legal Unity and Pluralism”.

EViR Insights
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© Jan Matthias Hoffrogge

Legal unity and pluralism at the 2022 Conference of Legal Historians

Held in August 2022, the 43rd Conference of Legal Historians (Rechtshistorikertag) took “Legal Forms of Validity” as its overarching theme. Jan Matthias Hoffrogge from the Käte Hamburger Kolleg was there in Zurich, and he now reports on the issues discussed. What becomes apparent is that this community of scholars is particularly preoccupied at the moment with phenomena of legal unity and pluralism.
 

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Interdisciplinary understanding and diversity of perspectives

Do legal scholars and historians actually mean the same thing when they speak of legal pluralism? Can the idea of the source be transferred without further ado to other sciences such as anthropology? And what is a norm? Understanding across disciplinary boundaries was one of the recurring themes of the first internal workshop at the beginning of June, which was attended by the Käte Hamburger Kolleg’s fellows, board of directors, and academic staff. The programme also saw discussion of two larger publication projects.

Interview
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"The plurality of norms is reflected in the language"

Claudia Lieb is an expert in German studies and carries out research at the interface of literary studies and law, focusing in particular on practices of standardising legal language. In the interview, Lieb gives an insight into her research topics and explains how closely language and law are connected.

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© Gesellschaft für Leprakunde e.V.

Laws for the “living dead"

Leprosy shaped the societies of the Middle Ages and the early modern period like no other disease. Countless regulations on how to deal with it have found their way into secular and canon law over the centuries. Kay Peter Jankrift argues that those suffering from leprosy were considered "living dead" and demonstrates the legal problems this condition posed.

Interview
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“It’s also about developing new narratives”

In this in-depth interview, the two directors of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg, Ulrike Ludwig and Peter Oestmann, describe what is special about the research approach chosen, the opportunities and difficulties that interdisciplinary research entails, and the goals that they have set themselves for the first funding phase.

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© Niklas Ohlrogge / Unsplash

Was der Rechtsstaat niemals tun darf

Ob Maskenpflicht oder Abstandsgebot - unser Alltag ist während der Coronapandemie auch durch Verbote und Vorschriften geprägt. Damit, so argumentiert Peter Oestmann, sichert der freiheitliche Rechtsstaat die grundsätzliche Vermutung zugunsten der Freiheit. Gefährlich werde es dann, wenn der Staat seinen Bürgern Verhaltensweisen erlaubt, Programmsätze verkündet und Ratschläge erteilt.

Interview
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Sophia Mösch
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© Edinburgh University Library (Wikimedia Commons)

Comparing political advice literature reveals relations between East and West

Even in the Middle Ages, cultural spheres were by no means self-contained. In fact, there was a lively exchange of knowledge, ideas, and texts. In studying political advice literature for rulers in Europe and the Middle East, the historian Sophia Mösch is embarking on an exciting philological search for clues: it is only a meticulous comparison of texts that can lay bare the linguistic and thematic links between the Latin, Greek, Persian and Arabic sources. Despite all the differences, what becomes apparent is that political thought in East and West was probably more closely interrelated than previously assumed.

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© Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg (gemeinfrei)

Zur Aktualität von Rechtsnorm und Rechtswirklichkeit

Derzeit wird in Deutschland wieder einmal über Sinn und Zweck des Zölibats diskutiert. Clara Harder zeigt auf, dass der praktische Umgang mit dieser kirchenrechtlichen Norm im Mittelalter weniger streng gehandhabt wurde. Nicht nur hatten viele Priester eigene Kinder, sondern diese traten später häufig selbst in den Klerus ein.

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Report on the Workshop „Handel als Faktor“ on 3 December 2021

Did trade in pre-modern towns contribute to a unification of law? This question was the focus of a workshop organised by the Käte Hamburger Kolleg "Legal Unity and Pluralism" on 3 December 2021 in cooperation with the Institut für vergleichende Städtegeschichte.

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Where legal history becomes visible

On 24 November 2021, Kolleg Director Peter Oestmann guided the new Fellows on a city tour of Münster that was as educational as it was entertaining. In addition to information on the obligatory sights such as the town hall, where the Peace of Westphalia was concluded, or the Lamberti Church with its three cages for the Anabaptists, Oestmann also shared a lot of details about the legal history of the city.

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Emilia Mataix FerrandizRoman Trade Ship Carole Raddato
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© Carole Raddato (CC BY-SA 2.0)

"Traders were legal actors who shaped the ancient world"

Under what conditions did people in antiquity conduct trade with each other? How did they make agreements, how did they create mutual trust and what law did they apply? Emilia Mataix Ferrándiz describes the Mediterranean in Roman times as a pluri-legal space that knew not only Roman law but also many older traditions and, in addition, countless local customs and social norms.

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Gregor RohmannAlexander Und Diomedes
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© Source gallica.bnf.fr / BnF

"Professional service providers in the maritime violence market"

Looting and violent confrontations were an everyday phenomenon at sea and, in certain situations, quite legitimate and in accordance with the norms, says historian Gregor Rohmann. During his fellowship at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg, he is investigating controversial semantics of maritime seizure of goods in late medieval northern Europe.

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Eyal KatvanJaffa Court
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© Palestinian Ministry of Information / Israel State Archive

"An exceptional Exception"

Eyal Katvan is currently a fellow at the EViR Kolleg, where he is investigating family litigation in communal-informal tribunals in Mandatory Palestine (1920-1948). In this interview, he provides insight into his research project and describes how he experiences the digital fellowship.

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Sebastian SpitraInternational Criminal Court Wikimedia Commons Cc By-nc-sa 4.jpeg
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© Vysotsky (Wikimedia), CC BY-SA 4.0

The Plurality of Criminal Justice

World days for justice come in many different shades. On the occasion of the World Day for International Justice (July 17), Sebastian S. Spitra has looked at the new plurality of criminal justice under international law.

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Logo 2-3Introduction Day
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We welcome the first Fellows

On 1 June 2021, the new Käte Hamburger Kolleg “Legal Unity and Pluralism” (EViR) in Münster started its work. In the years to come, we will examine the issue of legal pluralism in various societies from antiquity to the present from different perspectives.