News July 2021

Communities and the(ir) Law

International Online Conference of the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study “Law as Culture”

July 1-2, 2021 (via Zoom)

The call for community easily acquires a false tongue: either it points to an imaginary realm of harmonious past or to an invocation of commonalities that obscures actual conflicts. At the same time, this dream is alive in many societies: be it in the form of a “belief in community”, in the deconstruction of “imagined community” or in the search for sources of social cohesion. But is “community” only an ideological formula with assumedly magical qualities, in the wake of which the understanding of law also gets caught up, or does the term still point to a central social and sociological problem in modern societies? Against this background, the international conference “Communities and the(ir) Law” is dedicated to the multi-layered connections between “community” and “law” and asks about their possible relevance for burning questions of our contemporary societies.

The debate begins by reviewing the history of the concept of community in social theory, with a special focus on its connections to law, in order to analyze systematic connections between community formation and normativity in a second step. In an ideal-typical comparison, societal communities and their law will then be examined: from the Islamic world to exemplary analyses of China and Nigeria to the pluralism of community forms and normative orders in Indian society. Finally, new forms of community are addressed, which are linked to the transformation and crisis experiences of the present: What role does law play in the construction of gender and identity categories? How can we step out of the anthropocentric worldview and treat things as bearers of rights, perhaps trying to think a “community of things” that also affects our understanding of law? Can we confront climate change at all if we are not prepared to extend the idea of “community” and “commonality” to include nature? And what new forms of community building go hand in hand with the ongoing process of digitalisation and the possible emergence of a digital legal culture, as well as with the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic that we have to endure as part of a global pandemic community?

The international conference “Communities and the(ir) Law” will explore these and other questions on the relationship between community and law. The conference will take place online (via Zoom). To participate in the event, registration is required by 27 June 2021 at:

Werner Gephart and Daniel Witte

The invitation flyer with the complete program can be found here, the poster for the conference here.

News May 2021

The "Law & Society Association" has awarded Joachim Savelsberg the "Harry J. Kalven, Jr. Prize"!

The "Law & Society Association" has awarded Joachim Savelsberg the "Harry J. Kalven, Jr. Prize" ( From August 2013 to August 2014, Joachim Savelsberg was a Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities "Law as Culture." During his stay in Bonn he wrote the book "Representing Mass Violence", which Annelise Riles, Chair of the Award Committee, especially appreciated in her laudation. Harry Kalven was the author of the famous book "The American Jury", together with Hans Zeisel, who received this award for the first time. The prize is awarded annually to outstanding scholars for their body of work on "Law and Society." Joachim Savelsberg's new book is "Knowing about Genocide: Armenian Suffering and Epistemic Struggles" (

Our publisher, Vittorio Klostermann, is awarded the German Publishing Prize!

The publisher Vittorio Klostermann is one of the recipients of the third German Publishing Prize 2021; this was announced by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Monika Grütters. 63 publishers are receiving a total of two million euros as prize money. The series "Law as Culture" is also published - meanwhile with 25 volumes - by this highly renowned and once again award-winning publisher. It is edited by Werner Gephart, founding director of the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities "Law as Culture". With contributions by internationally outstanding scholars like Matthias Herdegen, Günther Jakobs, Maurizio Ferraris, Greta Olson, and others, research results of the Center have been communicated to a wider audience by Vittorio Klostermann for over a decade now, in order to shed more light on the cultural dimension of law, also documented in the volumes' design.

Internationael conference "Communities and the(ir) Law"

The international conference "Communities and the(ir) Law", planned for May 2021, will now take place on 1 and 2 July 2021. The conference program will be published soon.

News April 2021

Lecture by Raja Sakrani

We would like to inform you that "PLURIEL - 3rd International Congress" will take place digitally on 13 April 2021, 3pm. The topic of the conference is "Islam & Altérité".

Participants include Dr. jur. Raja Sakrani.

More information on the programm can be found here.

News March 2021

Corona Normativities and the Healing of Societies: Lecture by Werner Gephart

On March 24, 2021, Prof. Dr. jur. Dr. h.c. Werner Gephart, Director (Founding director) of the Käte Hamburger Center „Law as Culture“ will give a lecture entitled „Corona Normativities and the Healing of Societies“ at the CECS (Centre for European and Comparative Legal Studies), University of Copenhagen.  The lecture will take place online from 12 to 13:15 p.m. (CET).


The lecture will present a book that was written at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities "Law as Culture" (In the Realm of Corona Normativities. A Momentary Snapschot of a Dynamic Discourse, ed. by Werner Gephart) and has emphasised two aspects in particular:

  1. the importance of a "pandemic culture of validity", in which all normativity is related to the pandemic state of emergency. Indeed, the cure for the evil of the pandemic crisis is seen in rule-obeying, as a kind of medical remedy.
  2. reflections and reflexes of the crisis in art and culture complement the cultural studies approach to the analysis of the pandemic.

Further questions remain: How can the differences in the success of fighting the pandemic be explained: in different readiness to obey rules or the respective cultures of sanctions? These and other questions are addressed in the follow-up volume, which confirms that the pandemic is a monstrous laboratory of normativity.

More information on the lecture and the registration can be found here

News February 2021

The German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2022 will be designed by the artist Maria Eichhorn

Maria Eichhorn will design the german pavilion at the Venice Biennale 202. Curator is Yilmaz Dziewior, director of the Museum Ludwig, Cologne. By choosing Maria Eichhorn he has deciced in favor "of an internationally highly recognized artist known as much for her conceptual approach as for her subtle sense of humor. With her visually minimal gestures, spatial interventions, and process- based works, Eichhorn critically examines institutional power structures and political and economic interrelationships".

Maria Eichhorn was Artist in Residence at the Käte Hamburger Center "Law as Culture“ from October 2018 to March 2019 and from October 2019 to March 2020. Her research project Rose Valland Institute examines and documents the expropriation of Europe’s Jewish population and its consequences up to present day. The Institut was established on the occasion of documenta 14.

More information can be found here.

News January 2021

New Program of the 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 as live-streams on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. We look forward to receiving your registration by email (

The current program of April to July 2021 can be accessed here (PDF).

Detailed information on individual lectures can be accessed under Activities

News December 2020

New publication