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Masterclass, Brian Tamanaha (Washington University, St. Louis) will discuss the medieval origins of the rule of law and basic ideas behind the rule of law in contemporary liberal societies.

Detail Summary
Date 9 June 2016
Time 13:00 - 17:00
Location Oudemanhuispoort
Room Venue: Oudemanhuispoort

Room Venue: Oudemanhuispoort

Oudemanhuispoort 4-6
1012 CN Amsterdam

In June 2016, Brian Tamanaha will visit the University of Amsterdam. Tamanaha is William Gardiner Hammond Professor of Law, Washington University, St. Louis. In addition, he has a permanent affiliation with Paul Scholten Centre for Jurisprudence.

In the context of this visit, he will give a masterclass for PhD students and advanced (research) master on the afternoon of Thursday, June 9th. The theme is the Rule of Law, broadly conceived. The masterclass starts from the following readings:

  • Brian Tamanaha, On the Rule of Law: History, Politics, Theory (Cambridge 2004), Chapters 7-9.
  • Conor Friedersdorf, “Ferguson’s Conspiracy Against Black Citizens,” The Atlantic, March 5, 2015.

During the masterclass, Tamanaha will start with a brief account of the medieval origins of the rule of law and basic ideas behind the rule of law in contemporary liberal societies. He will distinguish political liberty, legal liberty, and personal liberty, drawing out the tensions among these liberties and the role of the rule of law in this arrangement. From this background, he will raise a series of discussion questions in connection with the readings. The masterclass will revolve around the following questions: 

  • What are competing ways of understanding the rule of law? 
  • Is the rule of law necessarily a moral good? 
  • Can societies other than liberal democracies have the rule of law?
  • Is the rule of law myth, ideal or reality? Or all three?

Given this intensive way of engaging with the individual projects, we can only accept a limited number of participants. Participation will be distributed on a first come first served basis.


Thursday, June 9th, 13-16u

Venue: Amsterdam Law School, Paul Scholten Centre

Adress: Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, Amsterdam.

For more information and registration please contact Roland Pierik (



Professor Tamanaha (PhD, Harvard) is a renowned jurisprudence and law and society scholar, and the author of eight books and numerous scholarly articles. His books, including A General Jurisprudence of Law and Society (Oxford UP, 2001) and On the Rule of Law (Cambridge UP, 2004), have been translated into many languages. Prof. Tamanaha has delivered public lectures in a dozen countries, and spent a year in residence as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he completed Beyond the Formalist-Realist Divide (Princeton UP, 2010). In 2013, a National Jurist poll of 300 law deans and professors voted Professor Tamanaha #1 Most Influential Legal Educator, owing to his critical examination of the legal academy in Failing Law Schools (Chicago UP 2012). Before becoming a law professor, Prof. Tamanaha clerked for the Hon. Walter E. Hoffman, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, was an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Hawaii, was an Assistant Attorney General for Yap State in Micronesia, and was Legal Counsel for the 1990 Micronesian Constitutional Convention.