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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Centre for British Studies | Research | Projects | Accidental Discrimination in the Conflict of Laws

Accidental Discrimination in the Conflict of Laws


Prof Gerhard Dannemann


Cases connected to different legal systems can get a rough ride, simply because applicable rules are not dovetailed to each other. This is frequently the case if one of the systems involved belongs to the common law and the other to the civil law world. In combination, they can produce results which are not intended by either system involved – insufficient maintenance or benefits, heirs receiving more or less than they should, criminals punished too harshly, marriages which cannot be dissolved, cases which no court wants to hear. A research project devoted to this topic was completed during 2003. The results were published in 2004 as a monograph entitled: Die ungewollte Diskriminierung in der internationalen Rechtsanwendung. Zur Anwendung, Berücksichtigung und Anpassung von Normen aus unterschiedlichen Rechtsordnungen. In this book, the author argues that courts are empowered to modify or ignore applicable rules in order to avoid such accidental discrimination, to the degree that, under higher ranking principles of equality of treatment, legislators would be prevented from deliberately discriminating in international cases. On the other hand, criticism will be directed against Continental doctrine and court practice which seeks to give the same far-reaching powers to courts in other complex international situations. As a backdrop to the issue of accidental discrimination, this project also deals with the following topics: (1) Public International Law influences on Conflict of Laws, (2) why and how norms which are not applicable according to conflict rules may nevertheless influence the outcome of a case, and (3) the international sphere of application of domestic, European and international human rights provisions. A summary of the findings of this project was published as: Accidental Discrimination in the Conflict of Laws: Applying, Considering, and Adjusting Rules From Different Jurisdictions, in: Yearbook of Private International Law, Vol X (2008), 113-134.



Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Centre for British Studies | Research | Projects | Commerce and Culture - The British Experience

Commerce and Culture - The British Experience


Prof Christiane Eisenberg


Culture and Commerce includes broad issues that encourage scholars from various disciplines - economics, sociology, political science, history, anthropology, literature - to take part and to contribute new ideas and methods. Several scholars carried out research projects in this subject during the last few years. They placed a special emphasis on the cultural industries which developed much earlier in Britain than in other European countries and are today among the fastest growing parts of the economy. Research focuses on the one hand on the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries, since Britain was a fully developed commercial society even in pre-industrial times and this commercial tradition has shaped industrial society up to the present day. On the other hand, the projects also examine the present tendencies of internationalisation and globalisation. An underlying question is whether the early rise of a commercial society is an asset or a burden as regards successful development in the long run.


The reciprocal relationship between culture and commerce has two dimensions:

  • Firstly, culture is a basis and precondition of commercial relations. This dimension focuses on institutions such as the state and common law, cultural styles (e.g. the notions of 'fairness' and 'reciprocity') or, more generally, norms and social trust. Advertising, for example, can be analysed as a means making market exchanges meaningful.
  • Secondly, commerce can be seen as a social force that can influence culture. Examples of this relationship are the market as a socialising force (i.e. as a force that fosters communication as well as conflicts); and the market as a cultural force (i.e. the news and media markets); the market as a rule-making power or a destructive force (such as the weakening of Common Law through European Community Law).


For Britain the analysis of these connections is especially interesting for two periods:

On the one hand, we observe the process of modernisation in Britain and the so-called "peculiarities of the British" (or "of the English") from the following perspective: While recent historical research is no longer fascinated by Britain as the pioneer of industrialization, it is now discussed that - in contrast to other European countries - Britain was already a fully developed commercial society in pre-industrial times and that this commercial tradition has shaped industrial society in Britain up to the present day. Therefore, the Centre would like to focus its research on the consequences of this specific British peculiarity for certain areas of culture. It will also analyse the extent to which alternative influences on culture - for example concrete state regulation mechanisms - have thus either been weakened or had no effect at all.

In addition, we examine the relationship of culture and commerce with regard to the present tendencies towards internationalisation and globalisation. In this respect, the question arises as to whether this long commercial tradition can be regarded as an asset or a burden on successful development. The long tradition of commercialisation in Britain seems to have been a mixed blessing. There is no doubt that it fostered communication with international partners. But has it not also led to a 'consumption' of the non-commercial virtues and values that would be necessary for further success?

The following publications by members and former members of the Centre for British Studies are related to the Commerce and Culture project:

  • Eisenberg, Christiane / Gestrich, Andreas (Hg.), Cultural Industries in Britain and Germany. Sport, Music and Enter-tainment from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century (Schriftenreihe des Arbeitskreises Deutsche Englandforschung, Bd. 65), Augsburg (Wißner-Verlag) 2012. (Publication at wissner.com)
  • Eisenberg, Christiane / Andreas Gestrich, Cultural Industries as a Field of Historical Research: Approaches, Analytical Dimensions, Long-Term Perspectives, in: Christiane Eisenberg/Andreas Gestrich (eds), Cultural Industries in Britain and Germany. Sport, Music and Entertainment from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century, Augsburg 2012, 3-22.
  • Eisenberg, Christiane, Soziologie, Ökonomie und "Cultural Economics" in der Sportgeschichte. Plädoyer für eine Neuorientierung, in: Sport und Gesellschaft / Sport and Society 1/1, 2004, S. 73-83.
  • Eisenberg, Christiane, Rita Gerlach and Christian Handke (eds.), Cultural Industries: The British Experience in International Perspective. Online. Humboldt University Berlin, 2006. Edoc-Server: Link http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/conferences/culturalindustries/. Print on Demand: ISBN 978-3-86004-203-8.
  • Eisenberg, Christiane, Zum Spannungsverhältnis von kommerzieller Massenkultur und Arbeiterkultur. England aus deutscher Perspektive, in: Hartmut Kaelble/Martin Kirsch (Hg.), Selbstverständnis und Gesellschaft der Europäer. Aspekte der sozialen und kulturellen Europäisierung im späten 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt/M. 2007, S. 299-318.
  • Eisenberg, Christiane, Rita Gerlach and Christian Handke, Introduction, in: Christiane Eisenberg, Christian Handke, Rita Gerlach (Hg.), Cultural Industries: The British Experience in International Perspective. Online. Humboldt University Berlin, 2006. Edoc-Server:
  • http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/conferences/culturalindustries/. Print on Demand: ISBN 978-3-86004-203-8.
  • Gerlach, Rita, What is Theatre Quality?, in: Christiane Eisenberg, Rita Gerlach and Christian Handke, Introduction, in: Christiane Eisenberg, Christian Handke, Rita Gerlach (Hg.), Cultural Industries: The British Experience in International Perspective. Online. Humboldt University Berlin, 2006. Edoc-Server:
  • http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/conferences/culturalindustries/. Print on Demand: ISBN 978-3-86004-203-8.
  • Gerlach-March, Rita, "Gutes" Theater: Theaterfinanzierung und Theaterangebot in Großbritannien und Deutschland im Vergleich, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2011 (also: PhD Thesis, Humboldt University, Berlin, 2008).
  • Handke, Christian, The Creative Destruction of Copyright – Innovation in the Record Industry and Digital Copying, doctoral dissertation (with distinction), Erasmus University, 2010. Online: ssrn.com/abstract=1630343.
  • Handke, Christian, Bericht zum MIDEMNET Forum / MIDEM 2007 für das Music Information Center Austria (mica) und das EU-Projekt DMET - Digital Music Education and Training; submitted 26 March 2007.
  • Handke, Christian (with Ruth Towse), Economics of Copyright Collecting Societies, report commissioned by the Spanish authors' collecting society Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE), 2006.
  • Handke, Christian, "Kleine Firmen - Große Erwartungen. Die Situation kleiner Tonträgerunternehmen in Berlin", in: Projekt Zukunft (Senatsverwaltung für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Frauen), Berlin: Klingt gut, Sept. 2006, pp. 12-13.
  • Handke, Christian (with Peter James), "Ein starker Partner der heimischen Kreativen: Die Independents", in: Kultur & Politik, Nr.06/05, Nov. and Dec. 2005, p.28.
  • Handke, Christian, "Measuring Innovation in Media Industries", RECIDA Working Paper No. 11, November 2005.
  • Handke, Christian,  "Bad for Universal - but Universally Bad? The Uneven Effects of the Current Crisis in the German Phonogram Industry", RECIDA Working Paper no.9, 2005.
  • Handke, Christian, "Defining Creative Industries by Comparing the Creation of Novelty", published in the reader of the Workshop Creative Industries - A measure for urban development?, WIWIPOL and FOKUS, Vienna, March 20, 2004, pp. 64-81; also RECIDA Working Paper no.2, 2004.
  • Handke, Christian, "Plain Destruction or Creative Destruction? Copyright Erosion and the Evolution of the Record Industry", in: Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues 3(2), 2006, pp. 29-51.
  • Stedman, Gesa, "From Gentlemanly Publishing to Conglomerates: The Contemporary Literary Field in the UK”, in: Christiane Eisenberg, Rita Gerlach and Christian Handke (eds.), Cultural Industries: The British Experience in International Perspective. Online. Humboldt University Berlin, 2006. Edoc-Server: Link http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/conferences/culturalindustries/. Print on Demand: ISBN 978-3-86004-203-8.
  • Stedman, Gesa, "Orange is not the only prize? Autorinnen im literarischen Feld in Großbritannien", in: Hard Times 73 (2001), 29-33.



Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Centre for British Studies | Research | Projects | The Common Frame of Reference for European Contract Law and its Interaction with English and German Law

The Common Frame of Reference for European Contract Law and its Interaction with English and German Law


Prof Gerhard Dannemann


This joint research project on European Contract Law was co-headed by Professor Dannemann, Centre for British Studies, and Professor Stefan Vogenauer of the Institute of European and Comparative Law, University of Oxford. The project began in 2009 and was co-funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Over a period of three years, a group of 40 legal scholars investigated the proposed Common Frame of Reference for European Contract Law (CFR) and its interaction with domestic laws, as exemplified in this project by English and German law. The participating researchers covered some twenty different aspects of the CFR by working in teams of one British and one German author each. The project funding also covered the creation of a database on the CFR, which is publicly accessible on the project website.

This project was concluded in March 2013 with the publication of Gerhard Dannemann and Stefan Vogenauer (eds.), The Common European Sales Law in Context: Interactions with English and German Law, by Oxford University Press.

Contributors to the project included present and former centre staff Professor Gerhard Dannemann, Irene Maier, Christopher Schuller, Kasper Steensgaard and Professor Helmut Weber.




Connections and Connectivity


Prof Christiane Eisenberg and Prof Gesa Stedman


Comparative research in the humanities, especially in the area of social research, both contemporary and historical has enjoyed a significant upturn since the 1970s. A great number of comparisons have been made between Great Britain and Germany in particular. In addition to comparative research, further studies since the 1990s, among them several by the Centre's staff, have dealt with the phenomenon of cultural transfers which – often unintentionally – go along with encounters between 'indigenous' and 'foreign' countries. This branch of research transcends the comparative tradition insofar as scholars do not simply enquire into similarities, differences and, from time to time, increases or decreases in distance. They also conduct an analysis of exchange relations, media and mediators between states and societies in the course of the growing interest in questions concerning Europeanisation and globalisation.

Researchers at the Centre for British Studies include a further aspect which, as a result of the connection between comparative and transfer research, will increasingly force itself into the foreground of research practice: connectivity problems between states, societies, economies and cultures. What we mean by this are failed cultural transfers and broken-off communications, as well as strategies of avoidance and rejection in the course of transnational processes. We would also like to examine British connectivity with Germany and compare the problems of British-German connectivity with other cases. And we want to do our part in ensuring that a general academic exchange comes into being in the area of connectivity research. The project was launched at a workshop conference in Berlin in June 2009.


Further details

In times of rapid travel, communication, mass migration and international exchange of all kinds, it is not surprising that the interest in connections and connectivity has now reached academia. The Centre for British Studies will concentrate its future research on this interdisciplinary area.

We will focus on two aspects of connections and connectivity: on the one hand, we intend to investigate different theoretical approaches and models of connection and connectivity, such as cultural exchange theory, neo-institutionalism, communication, and postcolonial approaches. On the other hand, we want to examine individual cases which compare Britain with other selected regions or countries. The aim is to combine both high-level theoretical reflection with case studies, the better to test the validity of such theoretical approaches. The disciplines which will be part of the research group are as follows: history, law, cultural and literary studies, sociology and economics. We hope to attract partners from ethnology, as well as from other area studies, since connections and connectivity between states and institutions, societies and cultures need to be examined from an interdisciplinary and theory-informed perspective. An analysis of specific connections and of the mechanisms enabling connectivity requires that legal, institutional, political, economic, social and cultural contexts be investigated.

The phenomena to be investigated may or may not transcend national boundaries. Both postcolonial theory and neoinstitutional analysis, for example, partly or even predominantly concern themselves with connectivity within a nation; postcolonial theory addresses the experience of the individual who has to negotiate his or her position with regard to several different cultures, while the analysis of institutions with regard to similarity or complementarity requires the existence of common values or standards and is therefore applicable either on the national level, or with respect to international organisations like NATO as well as supra- or transnational NGOs. Both approaches have their shortcomings; postcolonial theory privileges the experience of the internationally mobile, ‘hybrid’ intellectual over that of millions of less mobile migrants who are, therefore, less able to negotiate their position with regard to the social structures or cultures they have to interact with. Institutional analysis, in its turn, faces difficulties to systematically provide information on the less formalised interactions between social structures or cultures that transcend the boundaries of nation states. For such connections, cultural exchange studies are more helpful. Where connections relating to technological developments and communication are concerned, areas that transcend individual experience on the one hand, but where the nation state, on the other hand, is not necessarily of primary importance, neither of these approaches is particularly helpful. Here, it is tempting to use established metaphors and describe the phenomena in terms of networks and flow; this incurs the risk, however, of privileging metaphorical theories at the cost of specific insights. In fact, any general investigation of connections and connectivity must bring together a whole range of approaches from different disciplines while simultaneously avoiding the risk of operating on so high a level of abstraction that no specific insights on actual historical connections may be gained. There is, to date, a shortage of theory-informed approaches that explore the phenomenon of connectivity in general, including the question whether connections and connectivity can also arise from (former) conflict.

The project at the Centre for British Studies addresses a range of specific questions regarding the phenomena of connections and connectivity, primarily during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and with Britain as its focal point. However, since comparison is a sine qua non for most forms of cultural exchange and connection, our aim is to find points of comparison, be they German, French, or non-Western regions or countries. We explore the exchange processes that underlie not only the development of international and transnational relations and the mechanisms of interaction associated with them, but also the occurrence of cultural change. For the discussion and possible import of foreign models by any society generally serves one of two purposes; that of justifying or that of challenging the status quo.


Cultural Exchange


Prof Gesa Stedman and Prof Christiane Eisenberg


Book Cover
Gesa Stedman has published her monograph on Anglo-French relations in the 17th century. It was published by Ashgate in 2013.


Gesa Stedman co-hosted a conference on cultural exchange which she organised together with Professor Margarete Zimmermann, then from the Technical University in Berlin: "Reale und symbolische Räume des Kulturtransfers" (September 2003). The conference was funded by the Gerda-Henkel-Stiftung (Website of Gerda-Henkel-Stiftung) and was attended by scholars from Italy, Switzerland, France and Germany. The proceedings were published by Olms Verlag (Hildesheim) in 2007 (Publication at Olms).

Gesa Stedman also edited a volume of the Journal for the Study of British Cultures (JSBC website) on cultural exchange. Contributors include Maxine Berg (Warwick), Stefano Evangelista (Oxford) and Panikos Panayi (Leicester). The volume was published in 2006. A special issues of the European Journal for English Studies (EJES), also edited by Gesa Stedman, which focuses on cultural exchange in English Studies includes contributions by, inter alia, Jana Gohrisch, Ali Smith, and Gesa Stedman (EJES, Volume 10, Issue 3, 2006 at Taylor & Francis Online).

Two of Gesa Stedman's doctoral students have also worked within a cultural exchange framework. Anett Löscher (Justus-Liebig Universität Giessen) wrote a thesis entitled "Crossing Borders. English Universities and their Establishment of Campuses Abroad, reviewed from a Cultural-Exchange Studies Perspective".

In 2014, Sandra van Lente (née Müller) finalised her thesis on cultural exchange in contemporary British novels, comparing texts written by second-generation immigrants to those with a cultural exchange topic written by white British writers.

Gesa Stedman continues her own work on cultural exchange in new contexts, i.a. as part of the research network "Writing 1900", which she directs with Dr Stefano Evangelista (Trinity College, Oxford), and is currently doing research on English and British travellers to Berlin in the late 19th- and early 20th century.




Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Centre for British Studies | Research | Projects | Entanglements of Artistic Practice and Mental Health in the UK

Entanglements of Artistic Practice and Mental Health in the UK


Johanna Zinecker


This PhD research investigates the proliferating field of public engagement with Mental Health through the Arts in the UK context as a site of cultural production, in which sociocultural discourses and politics of care can become entangled in artistic practice and presentation. Johanna examines current artistic and curatorial production on Mental Health and Madness with a focus on agency, participation and questions of generating and accounting for non-normative and experiential knowledge about mental distress. This research builds on Johanna’s MA thesis (completed 2013 at Humboldt University Berlin with distinction), which discussed the intersections of visual culture and paradigms of knowledge production in medicine and the history of psychiatry through a case study in contemporary art. Johanna conducts her research in frame of the Joint PhD Programme with King’s College London.



Existing EC Private Law


Prof Gerhard Dannemann


Professor Dannemann is one of the founding members of the European Research Group on EC Private Law (Acquis Group). Founded in 2002, this Group currently consists of some 50 legal scholars from most EU member states. The Acquis Group aims to achieve a systematic arrangement of what already exists in community law in the area of private law. The Acquis Group bases its work on this acquis communautaire of private law rules and aims to distill from this principles and rules which will help to define the common structures of an emerging community private law. Within this group, Professor Dannemann heads both the Redaction Committee and the Terminology Group. To date, the Acquis Group has published two volumes of "Principles of the Existing EC Contract Law"in 2007 and 2009; a third and final book is still outstanding.

For further information please visit http://www.acquis-group.org



F. A. Mann (1907-1991)


Prof Gerhard Dannemann


In 2014 the Humboldt-Universität archive received 10,000 documents from the estate of the renowned German-British lawyer F. A. Mann. This project will analyse all the written documentation in order to retrace how F. A. Mann has coined legal theory and practice which is still in use today.

“Of all my learned friends, Francis Mann is the most learned of all. Long ago, as a young man, he came from Germany. Since then, he has become the head of an important firm of solicitors: and at the same time the exponent of a wealth of literature in the world of legal knowledge.”

This is what Lord Denning, one of the best known judges and lawyers of the 20th century, famously remarked about an alumnus and former academic staff member of Humboldt-Universität’s law faculty, who, together with his colleague and wife Lore Mann (née Ehrlich) fled racial persecution in Germany in 1933. Anne Kriken Mann, widow of their son David, has kindly donated some 10,000 personal documents to the Humboldt-Universität Archive. Professors Dannemann and Eisenberg are presently working on a grant application for a research project which aims to unlock the secrets from these documents, in particular letters which Francis Mann exchanged with the good and the great of his time. His correspondents include the majority of the senior judiciary of the UK, many internationally leading academics and legal practitioners, well-known business people and politicians, but also the political scientists Ernst Fraenkel and Friedrich Hayek, nobel laureate in economics. The documents have already been painstakingly listed by two student assistants, Daphne Brunkhorst and Alexander Malek, who have been kindly paid for by Anne Kriken Mann.



Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Centre for British Studies | Research | Projects | Intergovernmental Relations and Power Sharing in Devolved and Federal States

Intergovernmental Relations and Power Sharing in Devolved and Federal States


As part of his habilitation project, Dr Marius Guderjan is researching how policies are coordinated and power is shared across different levels of government in the UK and in Germany. The study looks at formal and informal institutions and patterns of governance in order to compare intergovernmental relations under the UK's asymmetrical, unitary state structures with the German model of cooperative federalism.


During summer term, Dr Guderjan organised a series of workshops as part of the KOSMOS Dialog Initiative of Humboldt University funded by Future Concept resources of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin through the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal Government and its Federal States.



Literary Field Kaleidoscope


Prof Dr Gesa Stedman and Dr Sandra van Lente


Inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the literary field that encompasses multiple agents and is shaped by them, we have created the website Literary Field Kaleidoscope. We offer information and critical comments about authors, agents, publishers, booksellers, readers, and books. We also offer a news column, statistics, and other resources that help our readers to understand the literary fields in the UK, Germany and France. We would like to encourage our readers to discuss their questions and research projects with us.



Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Centre for British Studies | Research | Projects | The Rise and Fall of the Written Self

The Rise and Fall of the Written Self


Prof Jürgen Schlaeger


The book project is part of Humboldt-Universität’s ‚Zukunftskonzept’ and is designed to reconstruct the main forces and parameters in the development of life-writing in English culture from the late 15th to the 21st centuries. Based on a broad range of sources from libraries in Oxford, Cambridge and London the book will analyse the most significant changes in expressing and constructing selves and then use the evidence to re-examine the validity of the ‘individualization postulate’ that is central to so many studies of the Western style modernization processes.



State Transformation in Europe


This research project examines the transformation of the state in Europe, with a particular focus on the UK and Germany, through a series of workshop taking place at the  University of Cambridge between 2016 and 2018. The collaboration  brings together German and British academics to contribute to on-going debates about the nature of 'state of the state' across the discplines of political science, political economy, sociology, public policy and law.

The study of European integration has for a long time focused on the process of ‘ever closer union’, understood as a slow but steady transfer of authority from nation-states to the supranational institutions of the European Union. Integration since the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 has confounded this assumption as we see ever more policy areas drawn into the remit of the EU but without accompanying transfers of power to supranational bodies. States remain at the heart of the European integration process but scholars are increasingly aware that these are not the traditional nation-states of the 19th century. European integration is founded upon cooperation between rather different kinds of states but there is little consensus on what this means.

German and British scholars have traditionally focused on the state from very different perspectives: a German emphasis on the legal dimensions of statehood contrasts with a more empiricist and policy-oriented British tradition. For all of these differences, dialogue between scholars has been limited, particularly in the field of political science. The identification of common or rival analytical perspectives on state transformation can be the basis for studying the transformation of states in Europe more generally, and not just the German and the British state.


The project is initiated by Chris Bickerton (Cambridge) and Marius Guderjan and part of the Cambridge Research Hub for German Studies funded by the DAAD.



Unjust Enrichment and Restitution


Prof Gerhard Dannemann


Professor Dannemann has published a monograph which places the German law of unjust enrichment and restitution in a comparative context, with a particular focus on English law. The book was published with Oxford University press.


Writing 1900


Prof Gesa Stedman


Writing 1900 is an international and cross-disciplinary network of scholars who are interested in studying the literary culture of this period in ways that overcome traditional national, linguistic and generic borders. The aim of the group is to share expertise and, through dialogue, to keep searching for innovative and challenging approaches to literary and cultural history and critical practice. The project is led by Dr Stefano Evangelista, Trinity College, University of Oxford and Professor Gesa Stedman, Centre for British Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

For further information please visit http://www.writing1900.org/