16 June 2011

CALL FOR PAPERS: Justice in Ottoman Society - Institutions, Actors and Practices

A workshop on Justice in Ottoman Society: Institutions, Actors and Practices is being held from 7-8 January 2012 at the Institut Français d’études Anatoliennes - Istanbul:

Justice in Ottoman society was made through a complex configuration, sustained by ​​ the interaction of different sources of legal references (Sharia, Kanun and custom) as well as different institutions or actors, giving rise to a multiplicity of different practices. If the plurality of legal references in the operative field of justice (i.e. in the Ottoman qadi courts) has long occupied the attention of researchers, the study of the multiplicity of actors and institutions operating in the field of justice has remained rather on the margins of the interest of legal historians.

Yet, in Ottoman society, people who were involved in a legal conflict had several alternative ways to resolve their dispute. Throughout the Empire there were of course qadi courts that would redress injustices and would also serve the individuals in conflict resolution. However, the qadi courts were not the only institution imposing fees or other penalties against wrongdoers. There was also the imperial assembly (divan), authorities from within the different religious communities or other experts that subjects could consult in case of conflict. Moreover, the military authorities such as governors and their assemblies (eyalet divanı) could also act in the sphere of justice as arbitrators or executive powers. What is more, the judicial or executive power of one (such as qadis) could be corrected, supplemented or balanced by the others (such as the office of vali, şeyhülislam, the Grand Vizier and muftis).

This workshop has been organized as a part of an ongoing seminar on the plurality of legal institutions and procedures in the Ottoman Society that has been held under the direction of Işık Tamdoğan at the Institut Français d’Etudes Anatoliennes in Istanbul since October 2011, under the title “La justice dans la société ottomane : institutions, acteurs et pratiques”.

For more information, visit:

The aim of the workshop is to contribute to a better understanding of the interaction of these various institutions and actors in the process of conflict resolution between individuals or in the larger context of making justice in general, as well as during/in the punishment process. It should also be underlined that in Ottoman society disputes and conflicts among individuals or groups could be resolved without resorting to any of the abovementioned institutions. This is particularly apparent on occasions when the society seeks to make justice of its own. Such judicial practices as amicable settlements or even direct revenge that were taking place outside of these legal institutions will be given a considerable place in our discussion in this workshop. Whether punitive or reconciliatory (as is the case in sulh) it is again the interaction between these different spheres of justice, (“informal” or more “official”) that will constitute the heart of our discussion.

These institutions and practices, which interacted in a complex and subtle manner are far from being uniform in space and time, throughout the Empire. It is for this reason that in this workshop we aim to approach their respective developments as well as their transformations over time (15th-19th centuries) and space (from Balkans to Arab provinces).

In order to approach this complex field of Ottoman justice, we propose to work around certain issues:

1. The strategies of individuals:
- Did individuals have any leeway in choosing the institution by which they could settle their disputes?
- According to which criteria (personal status or the nature of the conflict) people selected these institutions (Qadi court or the imperial divan)?

2. The interaction of different institutions:
- When a legal process was under way, how did these different institutions could intervene and take a role in this process?
- What kind of a division of labor took place between the various bodies and institutions - such as the qadi and the provincial governor?
- The interaction between the legal courts and governors’ divan or Imperial divan will be of particular interest for our workshop but also a particular attention will be paid to the legal opinions (fatwas) of the provincial muftis during the juridical debates.
- Is it possible to argue that there existed a clearly defined hierarchy between these different institutions or were they operating in their own ways depending on the nature of the conflict in question, the status of the individuals in conflict or random choice of the plaintiffs?

3. Legal practices outside the institutions:
-How were the conflicts resolved outside of these institutions?
- What kind of legitimacy had these “practices” vis-à-vis the legal and executive institutions (such as the qadi and governors)?

While we have funds in place to pay the costs of some participants, these are limited and priority will be given to those who cannot find funding elsewhere. Participants are strongly advised to seek funding from their own universities or research bodies. Working languages of the workshop will be French, Turkish and English. Potential participants are invited to send their proposals by July 30th 2011, to Individual paper submissions should include the full details of the presenter and an abstract of 200 words (for a thirty-minute presentation).

REGISTRATION: Bloody Days - Massacres in Comparative Perspective

The University of Pennsylvania Law School, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and the Georgetown Institute for Global History are jointly sponsoring a conference, "Bloody Days: Massacres in Comparative Perspective," to be held at the McNeil Center in Philadelphia on 23-24 June 2011:

Ab Initio: Law in Early America

Psychologists and sociologists have studied and theorized massacres, but there is no comparable body of work by historians. "Bloody Days" hopes to give some coherence and depth to the historical study of such outbreaks of violence by bringing together scholars and scholarship in a conference dedicated to presentation of work on massacres across time and space. Scholars who work on all periods and all parts of the world are urged to apply. The conference will feature a keynote address by Karl Jacoby of Brown University.

Registration is now open.

02 June 2011

NOTICE: New Issue of Law and History

The latest issue of Law & History Review has been published. It includes sections on both 'Racial Discrimination and the Law in Comparative Perspective' and 'Reflections on Further Research in Comparative Legal History'.

I strongly recommend Philip Girard and Jim Phillips' 'Rethinking ‘the Nation’ in National Legal History: A Canadian Perspective':


Craig Bryan Yirush - Claiming the New World: Empire, Law, and Indigenous Rights in the Mohegan Case, 1704–1743

Sachin S. Pandya - The First Liability Insurance Cartel in America, 1896–1906

Kif Augustine-Adams - Marriage and Mestizaje, Chinese and Mexican: Constitutional Interpretation and Resistance in Sonora, 1921–1935

Forum: Racial Determination and the Law in Comparative Perspective

John W. Wertheimer - Introduction

John W. Wertheimer, Jessica Bradshaw, Allyson Cobb, Harper Addison, E. Dudley Colhoun, Samuel Diamant, Andrew Gilbert, Jeffrey Higgs and Nicholas Skipper - “The law recognizes racial instinct”: Tucker v. Blease and the Black–White Paradigm in the Jim Crow South

Christopher J. Lee - Jus Soli and Jus Sanguinis in the Colonies: The Interwar Politics of Race, Culture, and Multiracial Legal Status in British Africa

Thomas Pegelow Kaplan - “In the Interest of the Volk…”: Nazi-German Paternity Suits and Racial Recategorization in the Munich Superior Courts, 1938–1945

Forum: Essay

Ariela J. Gross - Race, Law, and Comparative History

Forum: Comment

Peter C. Caldwell - When the Complexity of Lived Experience Finds Itself Before a Court of Law

Reflections on Further Research in Comparative Legal History

Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp and Robert H. Mclaughlin - Immigration and Techniques of Governance in Mexico and the United States: Recalibrating National Narratives through Comparative Immigration Histories

Philip Girard and Jim Phillips - Rethinking ‘the Nation’ in National Legal History: A Canadian Perspective

NOTICE: International School of Ius Commune (Erice, Sicily: 6-12 October 2011)

The Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture presents the 31st International School of Ius Commune in Erice (Sicily, Italy) from 6-12 October 2011. The Directors of the School are Manlio Bellomo (Catania), Kenneth Pennington (Catholic University of America), and Orazio Condorelli (Catania). The Director of this course is Andrea Romano (Messina). The theme is 'The Formation and Crisis of the Great Systems of Law: The Legacy of the Romano-Canonical Ius commune':

The objective of this course will be to explore the foundations and then the crisis of the European systems of law in the age of the Ius commune (canon, Roman, and feudal law). A further objective will be to measure the rich inheritance that contemporary legal systems have received from these legal systems, even if, in some cases, profoundly changed.

The present legal realty puts the entire concept of “great juridical systems” in crisis. This means that it is necessary to understand the inheritance of the past that had created and elaborated the Ius commune. This world had inumerable conflicting local norms established by the iura propria that had to be balanced and measured against the Ius commune. It is necessary, then, to explore and clarify how present day European and other legal systems evolved from this heady stew.

An elementary aspect of this development was the transformation that took place in the twelfth century. From the sixth to the eleventh centuries, European law can be characterized as an age of Sapientia iuris that was transformed in the twelfth century into an age of Scientia iuris. The twelfth century was an age in which not only law but theology, philosophy, and medicine emerged as independent and autonomous academic fields of knowledge.

From this historical perspective it is useful to consider the potential of the Ius commune to be a unifying instrument that regulated the plethora of distinct institutions (empire, kingdoms, city states, republics, Roman law, canon law, germanic and feudal law, iura propria, custom) into a system of jurisprudence that had one language, common norms, a methodology, a political structure, and a system of values. It was a jurisprudence that strove to render to every person his rights (ius suum cuique tribuere).

The course proposes, furthermore, to expand the horizons of these questions to include legal systems outside continental Europe. A key issue is the difference between systems of “codified law” and systems of “common law”.Both, however, had their roots in the Ius commune.

The great American jurist and historian John Henry Wigmore created a paradigm in 1928 that identified 16 legal systems. Other scholars have found only three. If one includes historical legal systems the number would be much larger. They all, however, have their place in the history of law. And they all must be taken into account to understand the evolution of legal institutions.

The lecturers and topics include:

• Andrea Romano (Università di Messina, I): “Ius Commune”, “Common Law”, “Civil Law”: origini, nessi e crisi dei grandi sistemi giuridici europei. Un’introduzione.
• Manlio Bellomo (Università di Catania, I): Avventure delle categorie giuridiche nelle società dell’Europa continentale.
• Italo Birocchi (Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, I): Il diritto comune fra storia e teoria.
• Giovanni Chiodi (Università di Milano “Bicocca”, I): Diritto Comune e Common Law.
• Orazio Condorelli (Università di Catania, I): Consuetudini delle città di Sicilia e restituzione dei “male ablata”: tra “ius proprium” e “utrumque ius”.
• José Manuel De Bernardo Ares (Universidad de Córdoba, E): El derecho comun y el derecho positivo en la formacion del Estado Moderno (siglos XVI-XVIII) (I, II).
• Gigliola Di Renzo Villata (Università di Milano Statale, I): Il diritto comune e la formazione del diritto penale “maturo” (secc. XIV-XVI) (I); Il “favor defensionis” nei “Tractatus varii” di Egidio Bossi ovvero l’eredità del passato e una prospettiva per il futuro (II).
• Antonello Miranda (Università di Palermo, I): Diritto Romano Comune e Common Law: una discussa influenza.
• Emma Montanos Ferrín (Universidad de La Coruña, E): ¿Crisis del sistema del derecho común en la literatura jurídica gallega del siglo XIII? Juan Francisco de Castro y sus “Discursos criticos”.
• Daniela Novarese (Università di Messina, I): Fra sistema di diritto comune e sistema di civil law: alle origini della codificazione del diritto in Europa.
• Andrea Padovani (Università di Bologna, I): La repressione dell’eresia in Italia settentrionale (sec. XIII. Tra “ius proprium” e “ius commune”.
• Kenneth Pennington (Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., USA): The Norms of the Ius commune in Conflict with the Power of the Early Modern State.
• Hans Schlosser (Universität Augsburg, D): Ius commune e apoteosi positivistica della legge - sec. XIX.
• Manuel Torres Aguilar (Universidad de Córdoba, E): Paz y conflictos en el Mediterraneo: derecho, politica y cultura.
• José Luis Villacanas (Universidad Complutense, Madrid, E): Alfonso X y su vinculation con el ius commune (I); Carlos V y el derecho romano-imperial (II).

The School is sponsored by: The Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research – Sicilian Regional Government – Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. – University of Catania – University of Messina – Universidad de Córdoba (Spain), UNESCO Chair in Conflict Resolution – Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Imola

For information and applications please write to:

Prof. Orazio Condorelli
Università di Catania
Facoltà di Giurisprudenza
via Gallo 24
I-95124 Catania
tel. 0039-095-230417