Law and Jewish Biography - Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Jewish Legal Theorists

Petra Klara  Gamke-Breitschopf's picture

Your network editor has reposted this from H-Announce. The byline reflects the original authorship.

Call for Papers
November 1, 2015
Subject Fields: 
Intellectual History, Law and Legal History, Jewish History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies

The Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University is planning a new research group centered on the biographies and life work of nineteenth and twentieth century Jewish legal theorists. Within the research group's framework, the Institute will sponsor three closely aligned, interdisciplinary studies of individual jurists. We welcome project proposals from interested scholars.

The biographies are meant to address problems of cultural and legal history and be oriented towards the chronology of each jurist's œuvre. The projects should place special emphasis on the interaction between law and experience, with both dimensions explored through a juxtaposition of the biographies and work of – prominent and still hardly known – legal theorists. Of special interest here are the influences of political and historical constellations, social and life experiences, and religious background on a jurist's particular legal understanding. Importantly, we discourage approaches meant to demonstrate simple causalities between work and events; rather, we invite approaches grounded in both a careful distinction and simultaneous connection between origins, biography, and conceptual development.

We encourage inquiries oriented toward a complex of shared biographical, professional, and theoretical features: Were there, for example, legal areas for which the Jewish jurists felt special affinity? Can we identify legal tendencies of a theoretical-philosophical nature that were perceived as particularly compelling? In what ways did the Jewish legal theorists stamp the development of relevant schools and juridical realms? Did specifically Jewish experiences contribute to the formation of particular legal concepts? And crucially, to what extent did legal concepts and styles change with transformations in the historical, political, social, and cultural environment?

Our research group wishes to explore such questions against the backdrop of various breaks that were decisive for nineteenth and twentieth century general history and Jewish history in particular. These include the emergence of ethnically homogenizing nation states from the bankrupt old empires after World War I, the transfer of power to Hitler, the beginning of the postwar period, and the movements of migration and flight catalyzed by these developments.

In the framework of a project workshop, there will be a possibility of presenting selected project outlines in the first quarter of 2016.

We invite interested scholars to submit supporting documents, including a vita and a three-page project outline, to:

Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture
at Leipzig University
Professor Dr. Raphael Gross
Goldschmidtstraße 28
04103 Leipzig

or per email to Dr. Jan Gerber (

Application deadline: 1 November 2015

The Simon Dubnow Institute places special emphasis on equal opportunity in hiring and research support; applications from qualified women are thus particularly welcome.

Contact Info: 

Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture
at Leipzig University
Professor Dr. Raphael Gross/Dr. Jan Gerber
Goldschmidtstraße 28
04103 Leipzig

Contact Email: