New Perspectives on Gender and Legal History - European Traditions and the Challenge of Global History

New Perspectives on Gender and Legal History - European Traditions and the Challenge of Global History

Dr. Karin Gottschalk, Bielefeld Dr. Grethe Jacobsen, Kopenhagen Prof. Dr. Heide Wunder, Bad Nauheim
Vom - Bis
28.08.2008 - 30.08.2008
Gottschalk, Karin

Law is a central element of social and political order - with it, power is institutionalized, actions are structured and sanctioned. Fundamental concepts of order are expressed and legitimised by law. This is especially true of gender difference. Until equal rights won out as the norm, differentiating legal capacities of persons by their gender meant assigning distinct forms of legally defined agency to men and women and to fix gender hierarchy. Nevertheless, even while formal equality is established throughout Europe since the 20th century, gender difference in law remains a precarious question.

The international research network „Gender Differences in European Legal Cultures“ aims at bringing together scholars who analyse in historical perspective the significance and function of gender differences in European legal cultures. This will help widen the possibilities of interdisciplinary and comparative work. The network is concerned with all fields of law – such as criminal, public, civil and procedural law – although focusing especially on civil law. Our intention is a gendered history of law which not only increases our knowledge of legal norms explicitly concerning women or men, but also questions the construction of law itself. In addition, the network directs its special attention to legal practice inside as well as outside the court and to relations of legal and social norms. Legal pluralism, the subsidiary of legal norms and competitive jurisdiction of different institutions concerned with the administration of justice are analysed as to the agency they grant women and men and to their influence on shaping gender difference.

After the network’s meetings in Frankfurt am Main (2000), Trent (2002), Copenhagen (2004) and Crete (2006) the fifth conference will again take place in Germany, this time hosted by the University of Bielefeld. The aim of this conference is twofold: to work out common traditions and different traits of European legal cultures by comparative research and to enrich our perspective by the flowering research on gender and global history. This research has shown the necessity to extend our focus of attention and marks a challenge to concepts, methods and narratives of gender and legal history.

We call for proposals for the following sections, welcoming case studies as well as considerations of theoretical issues and methodological questions.
- Gender constructions in medical and religious discourses and their impact on jurisprudence and jurisdiction
- Comparing legal cultures: differences and similarities, concepts and methods
- Gendered legal cultures in global perspective: encounters and conflicts, transfers and interactions
In addition to these sections there will also be the possibility to give short presentations of current research projects on gender difference in legal cultures in general.

Please submit proposals of 500 words at most. The conference will be held in English (proposals may also be submitted in German or French).
Deadline: November 16, 2007



Dr. Karin Gottschalk
Universität Bielefeld
Schule für Historische Forschung
Postfach 10 01 31
D-33501 Bielefeld
Tel. (521)-106-3199