About the “Istituto E. Betti”

  1. What is the “Istituto Emilio Betti”?

The Istituto Emilio Betti di Scienza e Teoria del diritto nella storia e nella società (Emilio Betti Institute of Legal Science and Theory in History and Society) was founded on December 15th 1995 at the University of Teramo (Italy). Its founding members were: Luciano Russi, Giuliano Crifò, Primo di Attilio, Giovanni d’Attoma, Antonio Nasi, Mattia Persiani, Giampiero Proia, Teresa Serra and Francesco Zanchini.
The Institute’s statutory purposes are the following:
1) the promotion of researches aimed at deepening and disseminating in Italy and abroad the knowledge of Emilio Betti’s scientific work;
2) the organization of national and international conferences, seminars and workshops on issues related to Betti’s scientific production;
3) the creation of an archive to make available to scholars the correspondence between Betti and some of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century, as well as the management of the book heritage he left;
4) the publication of Betti’s unpublished writings and the re-publication of works already published but which have become rare or unfindable.
Organs of the Institute are: the General Assembly (Assemblea dei soci), which meets at least once a year; the Scientific Committee (Comitato scientifico), which meets twice a year; the Secretary (Segretario); the President (Presidente). A particularly important role is played by the Scientific Committee. It has the task of supporting the President in all the choices concerning the planning of the scientific activity and cultural promotion of the Institute. In particular, the Committee must elaborate the proposals to be implemented in the conference that the Institute organizes yearly. Every year, in fact, two or more members of the Committee organize a conference related to an issue that can be linked (as far as possible and according to the objectives of the Institute) to Emilio Betti’s interests, which must be approved by the entire Committee. The following year, while two other members of the Committee organize the new conference, the previous organizers take care of the publication of the conference proceedings.
2. The Emilio Betti Institute: past and present
In 2014, two separate initiatives were carried out. The first consisted in reprinting the autobiographical volume – which has become unfindable – Notazioni autobiografiche. Betti wrote it for the most part in 1944 and then published it, with a closing remark, in 1953. The essay (almost a “soul-searching” done in the moment of the fall of the fascist regime) is very interesting and, sixty years later, offers countless suggestions and “food for thought” on Betti’s personality as well as on an entire historical period (the first forty years of the 20th century), which is today at the center of a wide and lively cultural debate. The facsimile reprint is enriched by an introductory essay and by an analytical index edited by Eloisa Mura. The second initiative concerned the organization of a conference in Rome (at the Library of the Italian Senate), entitled I giuristi e il fascino del regime (“The jurists and the fascination of the regime”). The basic idea that inspired the two organizers (Italo Birocchi and Luca Loschiavo) was to try to understand the reasons that led many great lawyers of that generation (in addition to Betti, we considered people like Santi Romano, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, Alfredo and Arturo Rocco, Pietro Bonfante, Giorgio Del Vecchio, Arturo Carlo Iemolo and others), to embrace fascism from the very beginning and with great conviction, even though their background was liberal or even social-democratic. Furthermore, being lawyers, they had all the tools to understand before and better than others what was actually hidden behind Mussolini’s “adventure”. The conference took place on May 23rd and 24th and on that occasion the reprint of the autobiographical volume mentioned above was also presented.
In 2015, the proceedings of the 2014 conference were published, maintaining the same title. The volume also inaugurated a new series edited by the RomaTrE-Press, entitled La cultura giuridica. Testi di scienza, teoria e storia del diritto (“Legal culture. Texts on science, theory and history of law”), which will also host the Institute’s publications in the future. The RomaTrE-Press assures the free circulation of publications on the internet (available in open access on the website http://romatrepress.uniroma3.it/) but provides also the opportunity to purchase printed copies at a very convenient price, corresponding only to the cost of printing (print on demand). Furthermore, in 2015, Francesco Macario and Marco Miletti oversaw the organization of a new conference, entitled La funzione sociale nel diritto privato tra XX e XXI secolo (“The social function in private law between the 20th and 21st centuries”). In this case too, the working hypothesis started from a question raised by a reinterpretation of Betti’s teaching in a modern key: is it possible (and if so, how) to re-read the ‘contemporary’ history of private law (institutes, codes and special laws, doctrine) on the basis of its ‘social function’, also considering the provisions of the Italian Constitution (article 42)? The conference – which attracted a wide audience – was also held at the Library of the Italian Senate in Rome on October 9th 2015.
In 2016, while taking care of the edition of the proceedings of the 2015 conference, Gianluca Contaldi and Tommaso Edoardo Frosini organized a conference entitled Sovranità e diritti al tempo della globalizzazione (“Sovereignty and rights at the time of globalization”) which took place in Rome, at the Library of the Italian Senate, on October 28th of the same year. The topic of the conference was born out of the fact that, in recent years, there has been almost a reversal of past trends, as it has been assumed that the process of ‘globalization’ would soon end up removing much of the old concept of national sovereignty. Against this prediction, it seems today that a kind of revival of nationalism is taking place in large sections of the Italian and European population. This has inevitably repercussions on individual rights, compromising certain achievements that were considered consolidated. The meeting was attended by scholars of public law, international law and comparative law, who questioned the reasons and modalities of this trend, the perspectives we are facing and the possible risks we should avoid.
The year 2017 opened with the publication of the volume edited by Sandro Angelo Fusco containing the lessons on Roman constitutional law held by Emilio Betti at the University of Frankfurt am Main in the academic year 1937/1938. The publication – entitled Probleme der römischen Volks- und Staatsverfassung /  Problemi di storia della costituzione sociale e politica nell’antica Roma  (“Problems of the history of social and political constitution in ancient Rome”) – reintroduces the entire course of lessons in German (original text) and proposes an Italian translation. At the same time, the proceedings of the 2015 conference were edited by Francesco Macario and Marco Nicola Miletti under the same title as the conference: La funzione sociale nel diritto privato tra XX e XXI secolo . As I giuristi e il fascino del regime, also these two new volumes appeared in the series La cultura giuridica edited by the RomaTrE-Press and are therefore entirely available for free on the website http: // romatrepress .uniroma3.it /. Furthermore, on the 19th and 20th January 2017, the 4th Conference of the Istituto Betti, organized by Luca Loschiavo and Beatrice Pasciuta and devoted to La formazione del giurista (“The education of jurists”), was held in the Sala del Consiglio of the Law Department of the University of Roma Tre. With the organization of this meeting, the Institute intends to intervene in the current debate about the difficulties encountered by Law Schools today, inviting on one hand to renew the teaching and, on the other hand, to recover a broader dimension for legal culture, as it has been increasingly compressed under the pressure of excessive and short-sighted technicality. The conference, enriched by the contributions of well-known scholars, has also provoked a lively debate. We hope to publish the proceedings very soon.

  1. How the Institute should develop

Emilio Betti’s work is characterized by the exceptional extent of his interests. If some of his favourite topics concern, obviously, the juridical phenomenon (interpreted as a dialogue between the various sectors of legal sciences), other topics (and in particular the theory of interpretation, that Betti elaborates considering also the various profiles of the artistic interpretation) offer the opportunity to involve at the same time jurists, philosophers, sociologists, artists and art critics, musical and theatrical interpreters etc. This explains why scholars of multiple disciplines are interested in Betti’s work today. In consideration of this, and without forgetting its institutional aims, the Betti Institute intends to propose itself first of all as a privileged “meeting place” for lovers of fields of knowledge that are usually considered very distant from each other. An ideal place that facilitates the cultural interrelations that Betti’s work can suggest. These possible interrelations naturally extend well beyond the national scene and if Betti’s works – for different reasons – are well known in Latin American and in the German-speaking countries, more recently also the Anglo-American world showed a new interest in Betti’s thought.

  1. How to become a member of the Institute

To become a member of the Istituto Betti is simple. You have only to pay the registration fee via bank transfer. You can find the details below:
IBAN: IT97N 03359 6768 4510 7001 77402
The registration fee is € 50 for supporting members or € 30 for ordinary members (specify the type of registration in the reason for payment).
The registration entitles you to free printed copies of the volumes published by the Institute during the year.
Luca Loschiavo