Mariana Dias Paes receives the Otto Hahn Medal

June 17, 2020

Mariana Dias Paes has been awarded the Otto Hahn Medal by the Max Planck Society for her PhD dissertation. Her research examined the social construction of legal relations between people and things in Brazil between 1835 and 1889. To this end, she analysed 74 legal proceedings of the Court of Appeals of Rio de Janeiro that discussed dominion and possession over slaves and land. Mariana assessed the contours that the legal category of possession acquired in nineteenth-century Brazil and analysed the role of social recognition in the configuration of possession situations. Her dissertation describes how new interpretations of possession theories delegitimised acts of land usage employed by certain groups – above all by indigenous peoples and agregados – as possessory acts. Mariana Dias Paes also turned to the debates on domain titles and the process of document production undertaken by parties in legal proceedings. She identifies the role of judicial demarcations in this production process and how courts often dis-considered titles issued to married women. Last but not least, her work features cases of illegal and irregular acquisitions of slaves and land.  The nineteenth-century process of constructing property rights in Brazil, Mariana Dias Paes concludes, was built upon pre-existing structures of ius commune. Her book will be published soon in our book series ’Global Perspectives on Legal History’.

The Otto Hahn Medal is awarded annually by the Max Planck Society to circa thirty distinguished young researchers in honour of their outstanding PhD dissertations. Due to the current pandemic, the Max Planck Society decided to hold the award ceremony at next year’s annual meeting.

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