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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Prof Dr Philipp Dann

Legal Cultures in India and Europe

Project funded by the DAAD

The control of social processes in order to achieve goals oriented towards the common good (e.g. social balance, ecological transformation, equality) is the concern of every community. The role the law plays in this control process depends not only on the content of the law, but also (and perhaps even more importantly) on the specific legal and legal research cultures of each society. The central idea of this multi-layered collaboration project, which started in July 2019 at the Chair of Public Law and Comparative Law (Professor Dr. Philipp Dann) and which is funded extensively by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), is to investigate such legal and legal research cultures in India and Germany and their relevance for the control of social processes. For a period of almost four years, the project will facilitate the exchange of students, doctoral candidates and joint teaching between the HU and three Indian partner universities and enable a diverse research and communication process.

The most comprehensive exchange project to date between a German faculty of law and Indian universities is based on two central premises. On the one hand, it is based on the assumption that the reflection of one's own knowledge and research culture is a central prerequisite for academic research to be able to productively accompany and influence social processes - and thus to be able to meaningfully incorporate legal findings into legal control processes. On the other hand, the project has an essentially praxeological starting point: it is assumed that the reflection of one's own knowledge and research cultures is particularly productive when it is undertaken in a patient and sustained dialogue with others, and not only in a selective and sporadic manner. Legal research in particular can find the 'other' in interdisciplinary and comparative exchange and benefit immensely from it. To this end, interdisciplinary and comparative legal research will take place in a previously little reflected relationship, namely in the comparison between India and Europe. This research potential will result in innovative findings which can also be used for research and teaching.

The project continues a long-term cooperation and has been developed in close partnership with three Indian universities: Azim Premji University (APU) in Bangalore, National Law University Delhi (NLUD) and Jindal Global Law School (JGLS). The three universities are particularly attractive partner institutions because they pursue an interdisciplinary approach in their legal education and research. The project also complements existing projects with an Indian focus led by Professor Dann, such as the workshop series of the Indian European Advanced Research Network (IEARN) or annual short-term scholarships for young Indian researchers  who have been coming to the HU for research stays for several years.

The joint project is intended to promote and institutionalise the exchange between Indian and German jurisprudence in terms of content and staff. It is intended to create formats that have long been available for scientific exchange with other countries. It is based on four pillars: an exchange programme that invites students, doctoral students and lecturers to the HU and that enables students and doctoral students of the HU to spend several months doing research at the Indian partner institutions; annual workshops at one of the four partner universities; the development and teaching of joint teaching modules; and finally a postdoctoral research project that will compare legal science cultures in India and Europe. The project is coordinated by Tanja Herklotz. In the process, she is supported by the student assistants Franziska Duda and Louisa Hattendorff. 




Field reports on the study and research stay in India: In February and March 2020 five students and one doctoral candidate from the law faculty of the Humboldt University of Berlin traveled to India for a study and research stay at the Jindal Global Law School in Sonipat (India). Our scholarship holders have recorded their experiences in detailed reports. Here you can find the students' reports, here the doctoral candidate's.


law-and-democracy-picture-1.pngYoung Scholar's Workshop “Law & Transformation”: The Young Scholar's Workshop on "Law & Transformation" is taking place at the Law Faculty of Humboldt-University Berlin from February 19, 2020 until February 21, 2020. Scholars from Humboldt-University Berlin, National Law University Delhi, Azim Premji University in Bangalore and Jindal Global Law School in India will be participating. The Young Scholar’s Workshop aims at strengthening the academic exchange between European and Indian scholars as well as deepening the understanding of the European and Indian legal systems.


Panel Discussion “Democratic Decay and Resilience in Europe and India”: As part of the Workshop, there is a public Panel Discussion about "Democratic Decay and Resilience in Europe and India" taking place on February 20, 2020. Aparna Chandra (NLU Delhi), Arun Thiruvengadam (APU Bangalore), Anna-Bettina Kaiser (HU Berlin) and Max Steinbeis (Verfassungsblog) will be discussing aspects of the topic. The Panel Discusion starts at 6.15 pm in Room 213, Faculty of Law. No registration required. 


Public lecture by Pritam Baruah about “Reasoning with Values: Constitutional Values in the Supreme Court of India”: Co-Organiser of the Young Scholar's Workshop and Professor at Jindal Global Law School in Sonipat (India) Pritam Baruah will be holding a public lecture about "Reasoning with Values: Constitutional Values in the Supreme Court of India" on February 13, 2020. The public lecture starts at 6.15 pm in Wengler library (Room E 23), Law Faculty. No registration required.

You can read the abstract of the lecture of Pritam Baruah here.
Constitutional courts routinely apply moral and political values in judicial decisions. Application of values by courts has invited scholarly skepticism primarily rooted in the vagueness of values. In its severest forms, skeptics suggests that moral and political values are smokescreens for subjective judicial preferences. So much so that scholars justify the giving of shallow judicial reasons on values, and some suggest that reasoning with values should be left to more democratic forums. In this lecture I argue, through Indian examples, that such suggestions are premature despite justified skepticism. The question of reasoning with values primarily involves epistemological questions that too easily cave into institutional ones. Through the Indian experience with human dignity and privacy, I propose that though not an exception, the Indian case severely highlights the problem of reasoning with values. Even celebrated decisions raise troubling questions on the justificatory front. The court uninhibitedly speculates on the content of human dignity, sometimes offers scant justifications for conclusions, and even when employing diverse interdisciplinary materials overlooks contradictions between them. These reasons call for legal scholars to closely engage with epistemological questions of content-determination of values that can guide judicial decisions. The paradigmatic view here in contemporary Anglo-American legal theory is Ronald Dworkin’s: that values are united in a web and mutually determine their content. Dworkin’s work has heavily influenced the Supreme Court of India. I argue that Dworkin’s view on values is a problematic holist one that cannot guide decision-makers. Alternatively, I propose that courts must break out from the web of values, as sometimes they already do, to a ‘world of instances’, to transparently and justifiably determine the content of values.