XIIIth Annual Forum of Young Legal Historians

Seville,  Spain

5-8 September, 2007
Seville, Spain

Crossing Legal Cultures

Call for Papers

Call for Papers (PDF file)


The European Forum of Young Legal Historians originates from the first two international sessions of young researchers, which took place in Frankfurt am Main in 1992 and 1993 with the support of the Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte. Since then, the event has seen a significant growth in the number of participants and the range of themes. In 1995 in Halle an der Saale (Germany), the meeting took on the format which has lasted until the present day; calling itself for the first time “EUROPEAN FORUM OF YOUNG LEGAL HISTORIANS” and suggesting the new idea of a general theme. On that occasion, the adopted theme was “Legal History and the Enlightenment”. The next meetings took place in 1996, in Berlin and in 1997, in Graz (Austria). These meetings, boasting participants of various nationalities, went beyond the boundaries of the German- speaking countries for the first time, as is suggested by the proposed theme: “Laws without Borders – Borders without Laws”.

The definitive push towards internationalisation was brought about in the events held in Switzerland. In 1999, in Zurich, the Forum definitively adopted its European facet, having 120 participants from 13 countries, and in Lucerne in 2005, papers which dealt with themes of Turkish, Islamic and Caucasian legal history were presented for the first time. The progressive gain of higher numbers of participants from Central European countries gave rise to the initiative of holding the next Forums in said geographical region, leaving the German-speaking environment for the first time; an initiative reflected in the events in Budapest (2003) and Warsaw (2004). The incorporation of the Central European countries, however, seemed to coincide with a circumstantial distancing of Southern Europe, as was highlighted by the Budapest 2003 Forum review, which drew attention to the complete lack of participants from Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece1.
The Forum’s expansive vocation is also reflected in the proposal to assume a wider general theme which, on the one hand, invites the participants to reflect upon theory and methodology, and on the other, allows the inclusion of the broad spectrum of legal history research in progress, with no chronological limits.
In recent years the Forum’s themes have ranged between explicitly mentioning the European identity and roots of the formation of this discipline and referencing, in a wider sense, the construction of the historiographic discourse. This could be seen in the last event in Frankfurt am Main in 2006, which proposed the theme “Remembering and forgetting” and in previous events in Lucerne, Vienna, Zurich and Munich in 2005, 2001, 1999 and 1998 , when the themes were “Legal Transfer in History”, “Ad Fontes”, “Legal (Hi)stories?” and “Continuity and Rupture in European Legal History”, respectively. As in this last theme, the explicit mention of “Europe”, or its role in the construction of legal historiography, was the focus of the proposed themes of the Forums in Warsaw 2004: “The European Legal Community: between Tradition and Perspectives”, Budapest 2003: “The New Europe and its traditions” and the celebrated Osnabrück Forum in 2002: “Europe and its regions.”

Seville 2007 Forum Proposal

Following the trend mentioned above, the Seville Forum is proposing the theme “Crossing Legal Cultures”, which suggests and evokes the not always harmonious but potentially enriching confluence of different legal cultures within the extensive European area. It refers to the problems of so-called cross-cultural encounters throughout history and the role that Law and its institutions play when creating the mechanisms of exclusion/inclusion, segregation/cooperation; of establishing rules for and/or normalising, limiting and/or favouring meetings, points of contact, interactions or exchanges between different cultures, which are established by the circulation of people, institutions, books and ideas lato sensu.

It is intended that on this occasion, the Mediterranean area of Europe will be given a special – though not exclusive – importance. The coexistence of the three main Mediterranean cultures – Christian, Jewish and Muslim – has been crucial in the development of each one of them and the rate of transfer of traditions, texts and ideas between the three groups figures is among the highest known in history. The city of Seville – the stage for meetings and conflicts in historical processes as diverse as the formation and dissolution of empires (Roman, Gothic and Arabic), the so-called Reconquest, the foundation of the Spanish Inquisition and the start of colonial expansion which led to interaction with American people and cultures for more than four centuries – serves, once more, as a paradigmatic meeting point, to show off the history which traditionally makes it “a melting pot of cultures”. Far, however, from celebrating tradition, taking the cross-cultural encounters perspective invites reflection upon the selfsame construction of the Western European historiographical discourse.