Archival sources available

During the Reinventing the Foundations of European Legal Culture 1934-1964 project, we have accumulated archival material from a number of archives. These include private correspondence, notes, and drafts of publications. We are working together with the data management team of the University of Helsinki as well as the respective archives to make as much as possible of the material publicly available at Zenodo (

Zenodo enables safe storage of research data. The research data is stored safely for the future in same cloud infrastructure as research data from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and using CERN’s battle-tested repository software Invenio, which is used by some of the world’s largest repositories such as INSPIRE HEP and CERN Document Server. In addition, Zenodo assigns all publicly available uploads a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to make the upload easily and uniquely citeable. Zenodo further supports harvesting of all content via the OAI-PMH protocol. Zenodo is integrated into reporting lines for research funded by the European Commission via OpenAIRE.

Meanwhile, we are happy to share the archival material with other researchers. If you’re interested in the archival material we have, please see our Archival sources page to see from which archives we have material and how to contact us.

Ville Erkkilä’s thesis defence

Mr. Ville Erkkilä (MA) will defend his doctoral thesis, The Conceptual Change of Conscience: Franz Wieacker and German Legal Historiography 1933-1968, in a public examination on 13 October 2017 at 12 noon. The defence will take place at the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki, in lecture hall IV (Suomen Laki -sali, Porthania, Yliopistonkatu 3). The opponent will be Dr. Udi Greenberg (Dartmouth College). The defence is open to the public. The thesis is available in E-Thesis.

Dr. Beggio at Symposium anlässlich des 85. Geburtstags von Prof. Gunter Wesener

Dr. Tommaso Beggio will give a presentation on “Paul Koschaker und das Streben nach einem zeitgemäßen Mos italicus als Reaktion auf die Krise des römischen Rechts” at Symposium anlässlich des 85. Geburtstags von Prof. Gunter Wesener on 12 June, 2017. The symposium will take place at Festsaal des Meerscheinschlössls (Mozartgasse 3, 8010 Graz). See the programme: Symposium anlässlich des 85. Geburtstags von Prof. Gunter Wesener.

Kaius Tuori’s “Emperor of Law” book launch

Welcome to the book launch Kaius Tuori’s book “Emperor of Law: The emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication” (OUP 2016) Wednesday 22.3. at 16-18 at the University of Helsinki in Unioninkatu 37 faculty room (1st floor). Comments from Janne Pölönen, Tommaso Beggio and Jacob Giltaij. Refreshments will be served.

More on the book from the OUP blog. The first online review of the book is also out here.

“Conceptual Change in History” conference

The FoundLaw project, in collaboration with the Oulu Centre for Theoretical and Philosophical Studies of History, is organizing a “Conceptual Change in History” conference at University of Helsinki, September 22-24, 2016. Keynote speakers of the conference are Theodore Arabatzis (University of Athens), Jaakko Husa (University of Lapland), Sinai Rusinek (Van Leer Jerusalem Institute), Benjamin Straumann (New York University), and Paul Thagard (University of Waterloo). The conference is open to the public and there is no registration fee. If you wish to attend, please send an e-mail to by September 14th, 2016. For more information, see the event page.

Lecture: Tommaso Beggio

Dr. Tommaso Beggio will give a lecture, titled “Paul Koschaker und die Reform des romanistischen Rechtsstudiums in Deutschland”, on May 10th, 2016. The lecture is organized by Die Heidelberger Rechtshistorische Gesellschaft and will be held at the Institut für geschichtliche Rechtswissenschaft, University of Heidelberg.

FoundLaw researchers at “Scuola di dottorato”, University of Trento

The project’s researchers Dr. Kaius Tuori and Dr. Tommaso Beggio gave lectures at “Scuola di dottorato” of University of Trento in September 2015. Dr. Tuori spoke on the topic of “The curious emergence of Roman law as the foundation of European legal unity”, while Dr. Beggio’s talk was titled “Paul Koschaker, l’Europa e il diritto romano al tempo della crisi”.

Call for papers: Conceptual Change in History

The FoundLaw project, together with the Oulu Centre for Theoretical and Philosophical Studies of History, is organizing a conference, “Conceptual Change in History”, at University of Helsinki in September 2016. The three-day conference hosts presentations by keynote speakers and additionally invites submission for plenary papers. Please email submissions to Heta Björklund ( by March 31, 2016. The maximum length of abstracts is 300 words. The language of the meeting is English. There is no registration fee. The organizers are unfortunately unable to aid in the travel arrangements or accommodation of participants. Please see the event page for details.

Keynote speakers:
Theodore Arabatzis (University of Athens)
Jaakko Husa (University of Lapland)
Sinai Rusinek (Van Leer Jerusalem Institute)
Benjamin Straumann (New York University)
Paul Thagard (University of Waterloo)

It is often suggested that historiography deals with change in time. If nothing ever changed, it would hardly make sense to do historical research. The nature of conceptual change has been an object of acute interest in recent years in the history and philosophy of science, cognitive science, Begriffsgeschichte, the history of ideas, legal history and other fields. Although a seemingly simple notion, the term ‘conceptual change’ hides a complex set of questions and problems.

First, ‘conceptual change’ may be seen to imply a number of different claims. It could mean a change of a particular concept or a replacement of that concept by another. It could also refer to the emergence of an entirely new concept. On the other hand, the reappearance, circulation and mutable application of alleged ´perennial´ concepts in historical writing would seem to undermine the idea of any abrupt ´change´ in conceptualizing history. Concepts operate within their intellectual context, where issues such as tradition have an impact within conceptual change and permanence. Especially in normative contexts such as law and legal tradition, concepts and their interrelationship take on a formative and constructive character.

One is consequently entitled to ask what ‘change’ is in history. Ultimately it is a question of how historians have understood invariance, change and replacement in their texts. It may appear that invariance is the prerequisite of variance. When we speak about a change of X, something would need to stay unchanged. If there is no invariance whatsoever, the case would appear to be that of a replacement of X, rather than of a change. The problem becomes visible when one tries to understand the emergence of an entirely new concept. Does it presuppose discontinuity with respect to the tradition that precedes it? Or does it rather imply continuity, as Collingwood suggested: “Any process involving an historical change from P1 to P2 leaves an unconverted residues of P1 incapsulated within an historical state of things which superficially is altogether P2” (An Autobiography, 2002, 141)?

Third, how should the concept of concept be understood in the context of historiography? That is, what is the anatomy of this tool of representation? On the one hand, many different philosophical traditions have put forward theories of concept, but often their notions appear unsuitable for describing changes in history. On the other, many schools of history deal with concepts, but they often define them only vaguely or assume implicitly. Thus it is necessary to ask, for example, what the relation of concepts to language is and whether they should be seen as atomistic units or as composable to smaller elements. In addition, contributions from educational science, neurobiology and cultural studies challenge historians to rethink whether concepts should be perceived as mental or social entities. Sociolegal studies have challenged the normative value and permanence of concepts and examined the way that change in political, intellectual and legal contexts is reflected in conceptual change.

We invite contributions on the topic of Conceptual Change in History from both junior and senior scholars and from various fields. The papers may deal with the semantic problems of conceptual change: How should change, stability, replacement and emergence of concepts in history be understood? What kind of theory of concepts does historiography require? Contributions may also address the question of the modelling of conceptual change. What are the mechanisms of conceptual change and how can they be presented? What is the relationship between concepts and normative orders and such as law and legal culture? In addition, papers may describe specific cases of conceptual change in history, which illuminate some philosophical, legal and theoretical aspects of conceptual change.