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CALL. 15.01.2019: Law vs Custom in Anchoring Innovation - Amsterdam (Netherlands)




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Amsterdam (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE:Anique Hamelink (University of Amsterdam); Elon Heijmans (Utrecht University); Kit Morrell (University of Amsterdam)

INFO: web -


The organizers are pleased to invite contributions for a one-day workshop exploring the interrelation of law and custom in the anchoring of innovations in the ancient world. The workshop is organized within the framework of the Anchoring Innovation research agenda (Work Package 4, see below), but all interested scholars and PhD candidates are encouraged to submit proposals, including those offering interdisciplinary and/or comparative perspectives.

Law vs Custom

The interplay between law and custom in driving and anchoring social and political change and innovation presents something of a paradox. Social practices are often seen as normative because they represent (longer standing) customs; at the same time, practice can be (re)shaped or formalized through written law. On a superficial level, custom is often perceived as inherently conservative or static, insofar as it is anchored in the past, while legislation can be seen as innovating or breaking with tradition by imposing new frameworks of practice. Yet, custom too can be dynamic and even actively created, while by controlling (or appropriating) existing practices, legislation often works to codify – and ossify – previously fluid processes.

This workshop seeks to bring together new perspectives on this paradox: are major social and political innovations achieved through law or through more ‘organic’ changes in social practice framed as custom, and how do law and custom interact in processes of innovation? Themes for contributions could relate to (but are not limited to): legal codification of social practice; the normative force of (evolving) customs; anchoring of social/political/economic change or innovation to law or custom; and legislation as ‘social engineering’ and its success or failure.

Papers should be of 30 minutes duration, followed by 15 minutes of questions/discussion. The day will include a keynote presentation by Professor Soazick Kerneis (Université Paris Nanterre) and conclude with a roundtable discussion.

We encourage all those interested to submit an abstract (max. 250 words) by 15 January 2019. Abstracts should be sent to Dr Kit Morrell (

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