From the mid-19th century onwards, many regions underwent fundamental legal changes by following Western models. Countries such as the Ottoman Empire, Japan, China, Siam, Ethiopia were subject to extraterritoriality as a most prominent form of pressure, but also in other non-colonized countries, internal and external diplomatic or economic pressures lead to legal reforms.
The symposium offers a platform for gaining a better understanding of the characteristics of the legal translations and transformations that took place in these spaces that were under the pressure of the Western European Powers. Encompassing a broad scope of different countries and settings allows to rethink the alleged universalisation of Western European law in the 19th century and early 20th centuries. By looking at the different experiences of translation and invention, radical transition and complex continuities, resistance and internal conflicts, the symposium aims at contributing to a broader framework of current research that reassesses what legal ‘modernity’ as well as the ‘West’ meant. By connecting legal histories which have mostly been studied in isolation from one another, and by analysing them against the backdrop of global imperialism and colonialism, the symposium offers the opportunity to reconsider historiographical narratives.