RS 29

part iii • contemporary legal history • mats kumlien Film censorship comes under administrative law, a discipline close to my heart. Is administrative law Beauty or the Beast? What do political leaders around the world make of our modern media world? What do legal historians think? Traditionally we have focused on texts and presented our findings as texts, but the times they are a-changing. Perhaps the age of cyberspace will take us to a place where the sensual aspects of the law are more accessible? A lot of people say so. Metoo. There are plenty of good reasons to study the history of administrative law. It is politically important and intellectually interesting. Inspired by Michael Stolleis’s writings, I will comment on two grand legal historical narratives: convergence and development. First ‘convergence’. One common legal historical theme has been the so-called inner relationship between different systems. It rests on the belief that every comparatist learns ‘that the legal system of every society faces essentially the same problems, and solves these problems by quite different means though very often with similar results’.1 So, different legal models may take different roads, but they all arrive at the same end destination. This approach used to be influential in the writings of anthropologists such as Henry Maine’s – his thesis ‘from status to contract’2– and continues in the present belief that there is auniversal trend in democratic industrial societies towards ‘juridification’, in the sense of increased conflict resolution with reference to law, or, more often, increased judicial power. We can ask whether such a ‘functional’ approach risks treating legal history as a series of inevitable stages in a storyline that follows an immovable dramaturgy. What of ‘development’? Stolleis has claimed that the notion of development, which contains elements of determinism or suggests improvement, is misleading in jurisprudence. However, he notes, many legal scholars see it differently, when they reassure themselves that their work has achieved progress of a sort or when they speak of ‘gaps’ that have been filled. Seldom have they reflected on the historically problematic 1 Konrad Zweigert & Heinz Kötz, An introduction to comparative law(3rd edn, Oxford: Clarendon, 1998), 34, 44. 2 Henry Maine, Ancient Law(Oxford: OUP, 1931) (first pub. 1861). 178