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Conference "Law, Empire and Global Intellectual History"

Jun 19, 2016

The conference "Law, Empire and Global Intellectual History" was organized by Dr. Kerstin von Lingen, Independent Research Group Leader of Project A16 “Transcultural Justice” and Milinda Banerjee from Presidency University Kolkata. It took place at the International Academic Forum Heidelberg from June 19-21 and opened with a keynote by Andrew Sartori (New York).

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, a desideratum exists 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.

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. The conference will address such issues, raising questions that also have a broader extra-academic ethical and political significance.

The conference took place at the International Academic Forum Heidelberg. The opening keynote was held by Andrew Sartori on Sunday, June 19 at 6 pm on "Property, Law, and the Histories of Muslim Freedom in Bengal". From 9 am to 6 pm on June 20 and June 21 respectivly, there were four panels. International scholars from all over the world participated in these panels, targeting the topics “Ordering the World through Law: From the Early Modern to the Contemporary”, “Legal Normativities and Globalized Confrontations”, “Imperial Residues and the Emergence of Postcolonial Legal Worlds” and “Law, Imperial Violence, and ‘Cultural’ Alterity”.

Andrew Sartori is Professor of History at New York University. His work focuses on the relationship between histories of concept-formation and histories of capitalist society. His current research examines the early modern histories of political economy.

Dr. Kerstin von Lingen is Independent Research Group Leader of Junior Research Group A16 “Transcultural Justice”.

Milinda Banerjee is Assistant Professor at the Department of History at Presidency University Kolkata and Research Fellow in Junior Research Group "Transcultural Justice".


  • Organizers and participants of the conference