Comparative law gets entitled: the 1900 Paris Congress in contexts




Fournier, Mireille

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This thesis examines the intellectual context of the first international congress of comparative law held in Paris, at the occasion of the 1900 World Fair. In particular, it articulates some of the unstated assumptions that made it possible for the conversation of this congress to unfold as it did. Using methods of conceptual history and discursive analysis, the author shows how this constitutive conversation for the discipline of comparative law drew from many discourses including conversations about the prestige of French legal science, claims to disciplinarity and the corresponding search for a scientific method, the desire to master the processes of legal unification arising from international trade, a concern with ensuring the place of France in the hierarchy of nations in a period of national malaise, and a mission befalling France to civilize the rest of the world. In showing how these different conversations shaped the discourse of the first congress of comparative law, the thesis outlines the ways in which they also participated in (re)shaping deeply entrenched conceptions of legal knowledge and legal scholarship.



France (Third Republic), Civilizing Mission, Comparative Law, Legal Discipline (History)