Actors, Groups and Identities in Legal History

Max Planck Summer Academy for Legal History

September 01, 2023

This year's MPILHLT Summer Academy brought together twenty participants with a broad range of personal and academic backgrounds for two weeks of intensive exchange at the beginning of July. As part of an overarching programme of introductory lectures on select research fields in legal history under the theme ‘Actors, groups and identities in legal history’, the early doctoral candidates had the opportunity to present their work to an audience of research colleagues. Lively discussions and fruitful questions emerged over the course of the two weeks between the participants who were all at a similar point in their academic careers. Though the project presentations dealt with different geographical and historical contexts, ranging from 19th-century Brazil to German registry offices during the Second World War, a number of relevant points of connection became apparent. Methodological comparison as well as the joint reflection of research questions resulted in innovative ideas and impulses for the future development of the dissertation projects. 

Likewise, the Summer Academy offered an excellent opportunity for the participants to get to know young, like-minded researchers at a similar point in their academic careers. It didn’t take long for a sociable interaction to develop, so that in addition to the academic programme, the participants were able to gain valuable personal impressions and establish useful contacts. Finally, the opportunity to share not only one’s work but also enthusiasm for research further contributed to the creation of a positive and fun working atmosphere. 

The Institute also benefits from such opportunities to present itself to an interested and motivated audience. This year was no exception and the impression from this year’s Summer Academy was very positive. It once again proved a valuable experience for the participants and Institute alike, promising valuable insights both for the individual dissertation projects and for the Institute and its research. And the programme continues to bear fruit long after the two-week Summer Academy comes to a close. As past experience has shown, it is not uncommon that a few Summer Academy participants eventually find their way back to Frankfurt to be a part of our research community.

(Julian Philip Gantenbein)

About the Summer Academy

Each year the Max Planck Summer Academy for Legal History aims to provide a carefully selected group of highly motivated early-stage research students, typically PhD candidates, with a comprehensive introduction to both traditional and contemporary approaches and methodologies in the field of legal history.

The Summer Academy is divided into three main parts. The first part focuses on acquainting the international group of PhD students with various sources, methodological approaches, theoretical models, and ongoing debates within legal history. These introductory courses are facilitated by both Institute members and external guest speakers.

In the second part, the participants have the opportunity to present their own research projects, specifically within the context of the year's designated special topic. This segment allows for a fruitful exchange of ideas and encourages collaborative discussions among the attendees.

The third and final part of the Academy provides all participants with the chance to further refine and enhance their individual research projects. This is made possible through access to the institute's extensive library resources and by engaging in insightful discussions with experts in different fields of legal history associated with the Institute.

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