This is a past event
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, comparatists were excited. World was changing in such a way that it looked like a restart for a discipline that had been lurking in the shadows of legal academia for most of the twentieth century. Finally, comparative law had a change to come out of the shadows and move to the centre. No more should it remain as a field for few perhaps excellent but somehow eccentric scholars eager to look over the borders.
Europeanisation and globalisation were to provide new relevance for comparative law. Some comparatists declared this century as the century of comparative law. However, no new chairs were established nor that much funding for comparative research projects was gained. Many new journals started but that concerned all internationally oriented legal disciplines not just comparative law. Comparative law scholars are now starting to ask, where are the serious scholarly comparisons that were supposed to come?
In a way, comparative law is much more common today than what was the case in the previous century. However, it is not about comparative law being done under the banner of the discipline of comparative law. What has taken place is that comparative perspective is being embedded, in a more or less systematic way, in the study of contract law, commercial, law, constitutional law, family law, procedural law etc. Younger scholars not identifying themselves as comparatists are increasingly pursuing comparative law studies (broadly understood) also at a doctoral level in different fields of law.
This presentation discusses the great expectations and reasons why the expected victory never took place. Alternatively, if there was a victory why it turned out to be something of a Pyrrhic victory. Although comparative law gained stronger foothold than before, it also lost something that was very valuable for the twentieth century comparative law endeavour: idea of a distinct discipline with a strong methodological and theoretical identity.
One explanation for the Pyrrhic nature of comparative law’s victory is that things became more complicated. Two examples addressed in this presentation are global law and comparative legal history. They highlight some of the key reasons that explain why comparative law’s future is necessarily different from its past and why the fruitful way forward is in the direction of legal pluralism.