Transnational Exchange in the Development of Criminal Law Thought: Western Europe and the United States, 19th and 20th Centuries

Despite the centrality of criminal law and procedure to core questions of constitutional rights and governance throughout the modern-day West (and beyond), the disciplines of comparative criminal law and procedure remain relatively underdeveloped. It is the goal of our proposed workshop to bring together scholars from France and Stanford, as well as from Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and other U.S. institutions, to recover the neglected transnational conversations that connected criminal jurists across Western European countries with one another and with the United States during the period that spanned the nineteenth and early-to-mid twentieth centuries. We will explore the interrelation between developments in criminal law, procedure, and punishment and broader social and political challenges stemming first from political liberalization and then subsequently from industrialization and the concomitant emergence of theories of social determinism. Recovering how jurists sought to address these challenges—in conversation with one another—promises to afford new understandings of the ways in which seemingly domestic developments emerged within a more global context. Given today’s vast transatlantic divide regarding criminal law and punishment, there is a crying need to explore longstanding differences that play a role in undergirding this divide, as well as to identify neglected common foundations.


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