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Hector. Heritage, Culture, Norms 2.0

PI: Jan Halberda


The research group is an extension of the project bearing the same name ("Hector: Heritage, Culture, Norms"), which is an innovative, interdisciplinary, international R2R research platform. The group, as the platform earlier, is aimed to provide a proper venue for academic discussion on a wide range of topics on legal heritage: from transforming fundamental / universal values into norms, through the consolidation of the latter ones into artifacts, to their presence in the present as well as their role in the future.


The main goal of the research group – the discussion – makes “Hector” flexible, open and inclusive. The Coordination Committee only creates a framework for further actions. “Hector” is therefore a communication platform that will facilitate the formation of new ideas, research teams and projects. Referring to the Latin neologism, the Project’s intention is to establish a surcularium, wherein the ideas of new projects will be incubated, while those projects already initiated will be a subject matter of further discussion and constructive criticism.

The discussions held within HECTOR will be to find answers to following queries: how legal and social norms existed in the past, how these were applied and passed on in the past cultures and societies, how values were transformed into norms, how the latter ones have been or might be turned into heritage relevant for today. Another critical issue will be the question how the heritage as such could or should be protected by the present norms. The core area of HECTOR's interest is Central and Eastern Europe, its legal heritage (understood both as an immanent and emergent phenomenon), both seen, however, against a broad historical and cultural background. The main areas of interest (the list of which should not be treated as final) are as follows:

  1. The Fundamentals: significant notions and ideas (eg. justice, liberty) comprehended as abstract terms filled with historical content, which are available for research through various academic disciplines; the overall discussion among the latter ones' representatives contribute to better understanding of the Fundamentals' meaning; the modes of expression of those Fundamentals (including art, literature, legal and political discourses, etc.); the historically changing attitudes towards them; also such questions as which of the past understandings of those Fundamentals are of special importance for the present, and how they should be preserved.
  2. The Continuity/Discontinuity of Normative Orders: crucial research area not only for social and legal history, but also for the study of identities of people and of societies of Central and Eastern Europe (and of similar regions). The research on these topics should include the questions of emergence, inflow, circulation and disappearance of legal traditions, as well as thoughtless transfers and prudent adaptations of organizational standards, and how particular societies were attempting to overcome or reduce the impact of historical processes or catastrophes (political disintegration, totalitarianism, etc.).
  3. The Artifacts: the means and media which serve(d) to transfer norms and values in the past, and between the past and the present, including manuscripts, monuments, works of art, which need to be inventoried, classified, studied, protected, and promoted.
  4. The Institutions: as specific incarnations of conglomerated norms and values, institutions of constitutional (eg. state, kingship), legal (eg. court, contract), or social (eg. family, village) character constitute a fundamental element of social order of every epoch. The Platform will focus on the heritage of institutions of Central and Eastern Europe, especially the universities, and the Jagiellonian University in particular.

Group members:

A group of nearly fifty scientists from several European countries (Poland, Austria, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Spain, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Germany, Norway, Slovakia, Switzerland, Hungary, the United Kingdom) and the United States collaborate within the group. The coordination is ensured by a team of eight people, while technical and organisational support is provided by a hired assistant.