The Legal History Blog reports the publication of the chapter "What is Comparative Legal History? Legal Historiography and the Revolt Against Formalism, 1930-60" (Adolfo Giuliani, Perugia), forthcoming in Comparative Legal History: A Research Handbook in Comparative Law (ed. Aniceto Masferrer Domingo, Kjell Å Modéer, and Olivier Moréteau (Elgar 2016). This word is a project of our Society.
What is comparative legal history? This essay aims to show that to understand the rise of this field of inquiry we need first to clarify how historiography changes in time. To this purpose, this essay begins from two main ideas.The text can be downloaded on SSRN.
First, the writing of legal history is deeply intertwined with an image of law which tells us what is law, how it is created and by whom. This is in fact the premise for doing legal history, as it determines the object of investigation.
Second, the decades 1930-60 saw a profound turn in European legal science. Some legal scholars challenged the legacy received from the 19th century and launched an attack on the ‘formalism’ at the heart of its intellectual framework.
Those path-breaking insights gave life to a wave of works self-styled as comparative legal history published in the period 1930-60. At their heart were some of the innovative ideas that have fueled original legal-historical research in the last decades, and which today are shared as an obvious truth (e.g. to place law in context, to think outside the doctrinal box, the dislike of abstract theorising). They are the fruit of the antiformalist turn of the 1930-60.