Empire, Law, Global Intellectual History 18th – 20th century
In the last few years, the domain of global intellectual history has emerged as one of the most exciting and debated fields of academic research. Nevertheless, there exists at present a considerable desideratum in terms of bringing studies of law and empire together in relation to global intellectual history, and of examining, from transnational and transcultural perspectives, the relationships between legally-oriented ideological structures and changing notions of ‘humanity’ and selfhood.
The conference will address this vacuum by bringing scholars from varius disciplines and from across the world into a 3-day discussion forum. It will chart the way in which future areas of legal-historical research can be informed by critical perspectives derived from the discipline of global intellectual history. The assumption is that this nascent academic field can offer new methodologies for studying the transnationally-constructed and globally-entangled emergence of fundamental legal concepts that inform juridical, social, political, economic, and religious frameworks today. Taking a cue from broader debates on transculturality carried out at the Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe’ in Heidelberg, this conference hopes to bring scholars together to analyse the multi-sited origins of legal-conceptual foundations that inform present-day debates.
At least since the sixteenth century, if not earlier, various societies around the world have grappled with questions of social alterity, imperial power, violence, and claims of rights and justice while engaging with far-flung transregional/transcontinental commercial, political, cultural, and religious networks. While framing basic legal concepts and arguments, social actors in different continents have often had a universalistic and/or global conceptual orientation, even while their ideologies have also been embedded in specific material and discursive contexts. Legal concepts have served as fundamental tools in re-shaping power relations, in normativizing imperial structures as well as in challenging and destabilizing them. Law has offered an intellectual framework for positing new concepts of civilization, ethics, rights, and resilience, in constructing new kinds of individual as well as social selves. The mutual entanglements of legal ideas, imperial power relations, and globalized encounters therefore constitute a key site of interrogation through which one can study the emergence of the world today, while also imagining sites of radical resistance and transformation. This conference will address such issues, raising questions that also have a broader extra-academic ethical and political significance.
Dr. Kerstin von Lingen
Exzellenzcluster „Asia and Europe in a Global Context“, Uni Heidelberg
Vossstr. 2/4400, 69115 Heidelberg
Tel.: +49 (0)6221 54 4377
Fax: +49 (0)6221 54 4012