CFP: Criminal Law and Emotions in European Legal Cultures: From 16th Century to the Present - Berlin 05/15

Pavel Vasilyev's picture

Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Center for the History of
21.05.2015-22.05.2015, Berlin

Elizabeth Lunbeck (Vanderbilt University) 
David Sabean (UCLA)

Dagmar Ellerbrock (MPIB/TU Dresden)
Terry Maroney (Vanderbilt University)

Legal institutions and jurists have often perceived themselves and
promoted an image of their role and activity as essentially 'rational'.
Yet, emotions have always been integral to the law, particularly in the
case of criminal law. Emotions were and are taken explicitly or
implicitly into consideration in legal debates, in law-making, in the
codified norms and in their application, especially in relation to
paramount categories such as free will, individual responsibility and
culpability, or the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of a crime.
Emotions could directly or indirectly play a role in defining what
conduct was legally relevant, worthy of legal protection or in need of
legal proscription; in why and how it was necessary to punish, and what
feelings punishment was meant to evoke. 

Legal scholars in the past did not shun the complex relationship between
law and emotions. Yet it is in the last two decades that specialists
from different disciplines, from law theory to psychology, from
philosophy to history, have shown an increasing and lively interest in
unravelling the role played by passions, feelings and sentiments in
criminal law. Special attention has been focused on three key areas:
norms, practices and people.

This two-day conference seeks to historicize the relationship between
law and emotions, focusing on the period from the sixteenth century to
the present. It aims to ask how legal definitions, categorizations and
judgments were influenced by, and themselves influenced, moral and
social codes; religious and ideological norms; scientific and medical
expertise; and perceptions of the body, gender, age, social status. By
examining the period between the sixteenth century and the present day,
this conference also seeks to challenge and problematize the demarcation
between the early modern and the modern period, looking at patterns and
continuities, as well as points of fissure and change, in the
relationship between law and emotions. In particular, it seeks to
question the extent to which ideas about law and emotions fundamentally
shifted around the eighteenth century-the traditional marker of the
'modern' period. 

This conference will explore how legal professionals, as judges,
prosecutors, defense attorneys and other legal officials, handled
different forms of knowledge about emotions in the practice of law, in
accordance with, or in opposition to, general social and cultural
attitudes and public opinion. It will further investigate the presence
and absence-and their meanings-of emotions in the courtroom, as a
fundamental aspect of criminal law practices. It will take into
consideration not only the emotions which were shown, expected and
provoked but also the ones which were repressed, controlled or
proscribed by different legal actors and the public. Finally it will
also include analysis of how legal understandings of emotions were
portrayed in the media and in the wider society.

We invite submissions from scholars of different historical disciplines,
working on early modern and modern periods and particularly encourage
proposals from scholars working on Northern, Central and Eastern
European countries, and the non-Western world. 

The conference will be held in English. 

Accommodation and travel expenses for those presenting will be covered
by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. If you are interested
in participating in this conference, please send us a proposal of no
more than 300 words and a short CV by 1 October 2014 to Papers should be no longer than 20
minutes, in order to allow time for questions and discussion. 

Dr. Laura Kounine, Center for the History of Emotions, Max Planck
Institute for Human Development in Berlin

Dr. Gian Marco Vidor, Center for the History of Emotions, Max Planck
Institute for Human Development in Berlin

Categories: CFP