Knowledge of the pragmatici: the first volume of the Max Planck Studies in Global Legal History of the Iberian Worlds is now available

April 09, 2020

The Institute has a new publications series: Max Planck Studies in Global Legal History of the Iberian Worlds (MPIW) will present legal historical research on the Iberian worlds of the early modern and modern periods. Its volumes will cover not only regions that were part of the Spanish and Portuguese empires or stood in direct contact with them, but also examine  the globalisation and localisation of normative knowledge throughout Europe, America, Asia and Africa. A particular emphasis lies on the investigation of cultural translation processes and phenomena of multinormativity. The series, edited by Thomas Duve, is published in Open Access, and in print as a hardcover edition by Brill.

The first volume now published – Knowledge of the Pragmatici: Legal and Moral Theological Literature and the Formation of Early Modern Ibero-America – is devoted to a long underestimated genre of normative literature that was of great significance for the formation of normative orders in early modern Ibero-America: small handbooks written for practical use. These could contain legal texts, but moral theological works and confession manuals were also among these widely used media, which were particularly important for the everyday practices of norm production.

The definition of this genre, as well as its function, dissemination and use from the 16th to the 18th century are the focus of the eleven contributions to this volume, which brings together the results of a collaborative research project (SFB 1095). A number of contributions focus on the methods of norm generation in the early modern period, in particular the role of pragmatic literature in these processes and the practices of epitomisation characteristic of this genre. The volume also includes studies on important authors (such as Martín de Azpilcueta) and on the circulation of books and knowledge. Further chapters analyse the presence and use of pragmatic literature in regional contexts from Mexico to South America.

The authors, almost all of whom are members of the MPIeR, come from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Peru and Spain. The volume, edited by Thomas Duve and Otto Danwerth, has just been published in Open Access; the hardcover version will become available at the end of April.

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