News

News May 2020

„Law and 'Gemeinschaft'“: Working Paper and Podcast by Prof. Gephart are now available

The recording of the opening address for the Center’s new thematic year is now available as a podcast. The commentary, which was filmed in the Durkheim Salon, refers to a working paper on the Corona crisis which can be found here.

The lecture is divided into two parts and deals with the following topics:

Part I: General considerations about the relationship of Law and “Gemeinschaft”

In the first part of the lecture, the by no means undisputed, yet indispensable categories of “community” and their limits – from Ferdinand Tönnies to Durkheim and Parsons to Luhmann – is discussed in order to localize them in the legal sphere. In doing so, various levels of community become visible, ranging from the figure of the “legal community” to the “European community” to family and neighborhoods as primordial communities To part I.

Part II: The Corona Crisis in Light of the Law-as-Culture Paradigm: Law and Corona Communities

In the second part, an attempt will be made to illuminate the normative implications and consequences of the Corona crisis in light of the Law-as-Culture paradigm. These will undoubtedly have an extraordinary impact on political, religious, and familial communities – an impact that, under the conditions of a normative state of exception, establishes an extensive realm of the normative (Foucault). To part II.


News April 2020

The Corona Crisis in Light of the Law-as-Culture Paradigm

The current crisis is met with reflection from experts – especially noticeable in official statements, TV show debates, and podcasts related to the natural sciences – upon which political decision-makers rely. And, at the same time, the power to “define” events has shifted into the sphere of science. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that value-based decisions are at stake – decisions which are fundamental in nature and call for ethical and cultural-scientific consideration.

A cultural-scientific perspective on this all-encompassing crisis in light of the Law-as-Culture paradigm can be found in the following debate, which was sparked by a piece by Professor Dr. jur. Dr. h.c. Werner Gephart and is being continued by successive texts from the Center’s former Fellows and friends. From the outset, it was important that the Center address current issues using a research perspective that is rooted in the fundamentals. As such, the normative requirements and consequences of the Arab Spring gained special attention early on at conferences and in publications, problems of normative pluralism were discussed in the context of circumcision, questions of material justice were raised in debates about the restitution of stolen Jewish property, as were provocative inquiries about a legal aesthetic that is reflected in courthouses, films about courts, and portrayals of Justitia. We also discussed the cultural significance of masks at the Art Museum in Bonn when they had masks on exhibit, and we pondered the normative requirements of the flâneur, a type of movement that, when done in large numbers, is currently penalized in many places.

With the project at hand, Professor Gephart would like to utilize the diversity of academic disciplines and backgrounds present at the Center and its associated institutions to analyze the large challenges arising from the current crisis –  and to do so not only from a cosmopolitan perspective, but also by using the analysis of norms and law as developed at the Käte Hamburger Center “Law as Culture”.

So far published and available for download:

* The views expressed in these publications are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Center “Law as Culture”.

Additional contributions from former Fellows and friends of the Center will follow shortly!


Due to the current risk situation caused by the increasing spread of the corona virus the announced forum events on March 17th and March 24th will be cancelled


Even at events that are not "Großveranstaltungen" (major events) , the possibility of reducing the risk of infection with the corona virus by cancellation is increasingly being used because of condensed communication. Although epidemiologists tell us that only a "through-infection" of society would lead to collective immunisations, there is agreement that a slowing down of the process is desirable. Thus we find ourselves in a similar paradoxical situation, into which Durkheim's thesis of the "normality" of crime leads us: Deviance is functional for the social system, though individually highly detrimental to a victim.

For this reason, the forum evening and reception planned for March 17th will not take place, and since - due to the precarious situation in Italy - a Fellow and participant in the panel discussion with Maria Eichhorn will leave us early, the date set for March 24th for the Rose Valland Institute discussion will unfortunately not take place.

We thank you very much for your understanding, but we can also promise that the juridical-normative questions connected with this kind of "state of emergency" will not be neglected by us!

Werner Gephart


News February 2020

Lecture by Raja Sakrani at Beirut, Lebanon

On April 14, 2020, Dr. Raja Sakrani, Research Coordinator at the Käte Hamburger Center "Law as Culture", will give a lecture entitled "L'autre dans la civilisation islamique: entre l'immanence des cultures et la transcendance divine". With this lecture, she will open the international conference "Islam & Altérité", which will take place from April 14 to 17, 2020, at Saint Joseph University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Further information can be found under activities

Please note: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic the congress will take place from 13 to 16 April, 2021.


New Program “Forum Law as Culture”

Through its homonymous forum, the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” offers a space for interdisciplinary and intercultural exchange with international guests and fellows at the Center. The forum events take place on Tuesdays in the Center's Max Weber Lecture Room and are open to the interested public. Admission is free.

The current program of April until July 2020 can be accessed here (PDF).

Detailed information on individual lectures can be accessed under Activities


News January 2020

Workshop "Digital Transformation in Law and Society"

The Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” organizes a workshop entitled  "Digital Transformation in Law and Society: Comparative Perspectives on Families and New Media" on 3 and 4 February 2020.

For further Information please note the invitation card (PDF)


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