Kaius Tuori is the Director of The Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives and the leader of its subproject 1: Law and Uses of the Past. He is also directing a new research project titled Law, Governance and Space: Questioning the Foundations of the Republican Tradition, funded by European Research Council (ERC). He is Associate Professor for European Intellectual History at the University of Helsinki as well as a docent of legal history and an undergraduate student of anthropology. His main area of expertise lies in legal history and the intellectual history of law and society.
Tuori began his studies in history in 1995, combining his fascination for both ancient history and modern history, something that has continued to the present day. Ancient history led to classical archaeology, another continuing interest that has led him both to the Finnish Institute in Rome as well as excavations in Petra, Jordan. He also studied another degree in law, as his father advised him to get himself “a proper profession” in order to earn a living. Through his research he became acquainted in legal anthropology, which he found really interesting and useful and as a result he also applied and got in to study anthropology. Finishing this degree has unfortunately been delayed.
Tuori’s research subjects have conveniently combined his interest in history, jurisprudence and anthropology. In his doctoral thesis, Ancient Roman Lawyers and Modern Legal Ideals (2006), he investigated how Roman law and the examples from antiquity were used in legitimating the development of modern law and its conception of justice in the 19th century Europe. He was especially interested in projections, how the use of historical examples influenced history, as ancient history came to be given modern features. Tuori has continued on the path of examining Roman law and its modern interpretations and implications. For example, in The Emperor of Law (2016) he investigated not only Roman law and emperors, but also, how the Nazis and Fascists used ancient Rome as their role model. Ever since his doctoral research, Tuori’s research has largely continued to circulate around historical narratives, the uses of the past and the concept of invented traditions made prominent by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger. The latter means creating a convenient past through historiography in order to emphasize such things that are well suited to the present and the ideals cherished by it.
In EuroStorie Tuori is examining researchers who went into exile from Nazi Germany in the 30s. He seeks to examine how they began to deal with their own experiences of exile and oppression in a new atmosphere such as Britain or the United States. His research concentrates mainly on legal historians and researchers of Roman Law, but also such theorists such as Franz Neumann and Hannah Arendt. At the core of his interest is the question of how exile was reflected upon and how did it shape the ideas of these researchers. Originally, he became intrigued by this topic already while writing his doctoral thesis and running into some interesting writings from the 30s.
Tuori is interested equally in the post-war development of how former Nazis, in collaboration with the aforementioned exiles, began to outline the idea of Europe and Europeanness during the 40s and 50s. According to him, they combined parts of the thoughts of the researchers in exile with elements of Nazi propaganda. Of the latter they took for example the New Order of Europe and the idea that Europe has a shared culture and shared values. This idea of Europe consisted both anti-communism as well as some elements of the liberal doctrine of the rule of law and the legal state (Rechtsstaat). However, Tuori does not find plausible the idea that the European integration process and the EU would be some sort of direct continuum of fascism even though they do share rhetorical similarities. Both emphasize greatly the idea of shared past as well as shared values, but the meaning and bases are very different. For example, the ideal of equality, which the EU strongly undermines in its narration of Europe, does not appear much in the Nazi rhetoric.
In EuroStorie Tuori’s wish is to discover different sorts of narratives of Europe and Europeanness, most of which have significantly long roots in history. They are not just something that Nigel Farage or Viktor Orbán would have invented overnight – rather they can be traced back partly to the interwar period and partly even much further than that. The historical base of different narratives also makes them more likely to be adapted. For example, a great amount of the extreme right discussion has existed for a very long time, it only springs up every once in a while in a slightly different shape and form.
According to Tuori, the conceptions of justice are extremely deep-rooted – for example the idea that there are some shared juridical systems such as legal state, equality or human rights. None of these have occurred by themselves, but rather they are results of a conscious development. There have been multiple other views too, but they have been overlooked, once the narration emphasizing human rights as something intrinsic and natural for humans has become a truism. EuroStorie seeks to examine these narrations in their original contexts. Tuori states that it is important to investigate also the alternative concepts of Europe and Europeanness alongside with the narration that the EU is producing, because it provides us necessary tools to better understand and handle the current crisis: the rise of the extreme right and populism, deepened dichotomy and crumbling of shared values.