Since the 1990s, the attempts to supplement the conventional, overwhelmingly national historiographical traditions via the introduction of a global dimension have been on the rise. In the meantime, a number of legal historical publications, articles, and even institutions have increasingly been making use of the term ‘global’. The transnationalization of law as well as the rise of global history and global studies in general are having an impact on legal historiography. Since the world’s legal systems are currently undergoing significant transformations, both the need for fundamental reflections about law and legal scholarship as well as a new call for long-term perspectives on a global scale has become clear. As a result, there is a growing demand for global legal history.
However, there is neither a consensus as to what global legal history is, nor as to what objectives this kind of legal historiography pursues, nor even as to where it is to be located in relation to other disciplines. The following article attempts to sketch out a general panorama and point to some of the central difficulties confronting global legal history.