Andrew Cecchinato – Research Update (ii)

I have devoted my first year as research fellow to a close reading of the Commentaries and of the relevant scholarly literature. After having sketched the preliminary trajectory of his research in a paper presented in Roma Tre earlier this year, I have begun working on an article on Blackstone’s engagement with Medieval and Modern European jurisprudence. The article, provisionally entitled “In which we are not singular in our notions”: William Blackstone as interpreter of the European Legal Tradition, intends to suggest the possibility of looking at Book I of the Commentaries from the vantage point of interpretative concerns that do not seem to have been hitherto fully explored by the literature. Combined together, these concerns raise a common question: did Blackstone conceive the scientific interpretation of English municipal law according to the common principles of the European legal tradition or did he rather conceive the interpretation of English law according to the principles of an entirely national jurisprudence? In answering this question, the paper will argue that Blackstone (i) offered a scientific account of the dialectical relationship between English law and the general science of law, (ii) conceived English sovereignty, (iii) and articulated the historical relationship between common law and the ius commune by closely engaging with the entire body of European jurisprudence available to him either directly or indirectly.

I have also begun working on two secondary projects: (i) the publication of my first book (Reading Law in Revolutionary Times: Thomas Jefferson and the Western Legal Tradition), which will be based on an extensive revision of his PhD dissertation, (ii) and the English translation of one the classical works of 20th century legal historiography, Francesco Calasso’s Introduzione al diritto comune.

In May 2018, I took part in the inaugurating conference of the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives at the University of Helsinki, where along with Chiara Cristofolini (a postdoctoral fellow in Labour Law at the University of Trento) I delivered a paper entitled: “The crisis of social organizations and democratic institutions”.

In the forthcoming months, I will be travelling to Charlottesville (VA) for a visiting fellowship at The Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies (July 2018) and to Frankfurt for a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max-Planck Institute Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte (October to December 2018).