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Seán Patrick Donlan

The state of comparative legal history has improved considerably in recent years. But those self-identifying as comparative legal historians still too often reflect a bias towards isolated Eurocentric comparisons, an inattention to social setting and a failure to see law within its wider normative context. This chapter suggests that some of us should study the thick web of social regulation and dispute resolution, the relational entanglement of our laws and norms. Comparative legal history would benefit from this sensitivity and deep focus. Placing comparative legal history in normative perspective in this way need not require a new formal methodology, but it may be necessary to more actively engage with those working beyond the narrow traditional boundaries of our discipline. A dialogue with these scholars and an openness to new methods and models would be beneficial to all. In sum, comparative legal history ought to include the study of legal-normative entanglement, embrace research beyond the narrowly legal and draw inspiration from beyond history. To do so, we must cross temporal, geographical and disciplinary boundaries.