Rethinking emergency from a legal historical perspective: contexts, actors, practices, 1914-2020

01 September 2023 → 31 August 2028
European funding: framework programme
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • History of law
legal system
Other information
Project description

Rule of law and human rights are under pressure worldwide. The political and legal landscape is dramatically changing, with situations of crisis becoming a recurrent presence in the life of our polities. We thus witness a resurgence of emergency legislation and measures that states employ to tackle the nefarious effects caused by numerous disruptions: from financial instability to terrorist activity, pandemics, or military threat. Traditionally, emergency has been understood as a mechanism that has only temporary and limited effects on legal systems: once the crisis recedes, fundamental rights and constitutional process are restored. EMERGE argues that emergency has long-lasting effects subsisting the crisis. They affect our understanding of human rights, the rule of law principle and constitutional practices. EMERGE will advance a paradigmatic shift in the study of emergency by offering an original re-evaluation of the impact emergency has on the operation of the law. It will provide a much-needed legal historical explanation of how the historical experience of emergency has shaped constitutional and political cultures across Europe in the past century. Delivering a chronological examination and a timeline of the practice of emergency in relation to economic, social and political crises it will critically re-evaluate key moments in European constitutional history from 1914 to 2020. EMERGE will offer a comprehensive analysis of emergency by forging a unique multidisciplinary approach drawing on comparative legal history (contextual legal history), legal theory (law in action, law in context, narrative jurisprudence) and digital humanities (similarity, network and sentiment analysis). Rather than focusing exclusively on legal rules, it will study the agency of individuals, actors and subjects of emergency legislation and reconfigure emergency as a multi-layered socio-legal phenomenon involving social actors and political choices shaping constitutional cultures.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA). Neither the European Union nor the authority can be held responsible for them.