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Reconsidering Constitutional Formation.Constitutional Communication by Drafting, Practice and Interpretation in 18th and 19th century Europe


The genesis of the modern constitutional state in late 18th and 19th century Europe has met im-mense public awareness and cross-border participation. Though this phenomenon is well known, basic patterns of constitutional communication (i.e. socio-cultural and cross-border contexts, ‘Zeitgeist’) have never been addressed before. In this concern ReConFort applies an evolutionary, dynamic and interactive concept of forming constitutions by text, societal context, political practice, constitutional interpretation and communication.
The transdisciplinary project focuses on the constitutional “discourse” around selected constituent assemblies: the Polish Sejm (1788-1792), the Spanish Cortes (1810-1812), the Belgian National Congress (1830-1831), the Frankfurt Parliament (1848-1849) and the Italian Parlamento Subalpino (1861). Albeit all these historical paradigms are particular and different, they all shared a Europe-wide public interest. The research approach draws upon mainly inedited and still unknown archival sources: cross-border correspondences, publicistic activities of protagonists, exile literature, and regional to cross-border constitutional journalism in leading public media. The synchronic comparative analysis is complemented by systematic diachronic studies. Thereby ReConFort identifies common structural criteria, features and principles in constitution forming processes.
ReConFort finally aims at assessing basic determinants and mutual interdependencies of constitutional formation and communication in Europe. This research focus will estalish a deeper understanding of mutual influences of constitutional developments in Europe by pointing out the transnational dynamics of constitutional forming, practice and interpretation. Thus, ReConFort crosses the frontiers of traditional legal and historical sciences and will be of value for the present integration process of the EU.

Call for proposal

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Innstrasse 41
94032 Passau

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Ulrike Muessig (Prof.)
Sabine Wiendl (Mrs.)
EU contribution
€ 1 880 373,00

Beneficiaries (1)