ProLOEWE faces

Professor Dr Wim Decock A Belgian globetrotter in Frankfurt

Professor Decock, you are head of the young researchers’ group called "Canon Law, Moral Theology and Conflict Resolution in the Early Modern Period" at the LOEWE cluster entitled "Extrajudicial and Judicial Conflict Resolution". What exactly are you focusing on? The LOEWE cluster examines how different societies handle civil conflicts and the standards and regulatory systems that they develop. For this purpose, we compare different eras and cultures and also build a bridge with the present time. We are concentrating on different issues in the early modern period in the young researchers’ group. My field of expertise is the regulation of trade and finance in the 16th and 17th centuries.

That sounds very specialised. How do you find the level of cooperation within the LOEWE cluster? Exchanging ideas is a very enriching experience. For example, we are working together on a handbook on conflict resolution models from ancient times up to the present. Structural parallels can be recognised as we combine various special fields: the fact that only a small proportion of all court cases end with a ruling by a judge, while the remaining conflicts are settled out of court, is not a special feature of the current period; evidence of this can be found at other times as well.

After your degree course at the University of Leuven, you spent time conducting research in Frankfurt, Florence, Rome, Paris and Boston. This suggests that you have an international network and a wide range of opportunities. Why are you back in Frankfurt?   Frankfurt is one of the most prestigious locations in legal history around the world. For this reason alone, it was very easy for me to make the decision to take over the leadership of the young researchers’ group here. I was also attracted by the completely new approach of the LOEWE cluster, which aims to build a bridge between legal history and current practice in resolving conflicts - this has broadened my horizons in a very important way. There is another issue too: I have a high regard for the German culture of scholarship and discussion. This thoroughness and independent thinking are an enormous strength.

You have just turned thirty. What are you going to do next? I was recently offered a position in the Faculty of Law at the University of Leuven. However, I will only teach there one day a week initially, because I really want to complete my contract here in Frankfurt, which runs until the end of 2014. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to making Belgium the focal point of my life again. Up to now, I’ve been commuting to see my wife in Liège at weekends. This is not unusual for academics, but it makes social integration more difficult at both places.

About the Person

  • Junior research group leader in the LOEWE cluster "Extrajudicial and judicial conflict resolution"
  • Professor at the University of Leuven
  • His field of expertise is the legal history of the early modern period