Colourful atwork visualizing this year's theme "Actors, Groups 
and Identities in Legal History"

Max Planck Summer Academy for Legal History


3 July – 14 July 2023

The Academy

The Max Planck Summer Academy for Legal History provides a selected group of highly motivated early-stage research students, usually PhD candidates, with an in-depth introduction to traditional and contemporary approaches and methods in legal history.

The Summer Academy consists of three parts. The first part introduces the international group of PhD students to sources, methodological approaches and theoretical models as well as to controversial research debates on fundamental issues of legal history. The introductory courses are led by members of the Institute and external guest speakers. In the second part, the invited participants present their own projects within the context of the respective year’s special topic. The third part of the Academy offers the opportunity to all participants to further develop their own research by making use of the library and by discussing their projects with the Institute’s experts in the different fields of legal history.

The course will take place at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory in Frankfurt am Main, Germany (mpilhlt).

This year’s theme: Actors, Groups and Identities in Legal History

The history of the law has been shaped by individual actors as well as groups of people. In either case, their identity was an important factor motivating their individual or collective actions and omissions. Today, legal history sees a resurgence of biographical studies of ‘key actors’. At the same time, ‘legal history from below’ sharpens our awareness that marginalised groups were powerful forces of legal development, too.

Should legal historians make sure that their accounts integrate both perspectives, so as to present a ‘balanced’ interpretation of the past? If so, how can this be achieved? How can the prism of ‘identities’ help to contextualise and better understand both individual and collective interests and behaviour?

The 2023 Summer Academy will explore these issues further. Applicants are encouraged to present research projects that are related to this year’s theme.


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