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Five Questions with Lorenzo Casini

Richard Albert, Boston College Law School

In “Five Questions with … ” here at I-CONnect, we invite a public law scholar to answer five questions about his or her research.

This edition of “Five Questions with … ” features Lorenzo Casini, Full Professor of Administrative Law at IMT School for Advanced Studies, Lucca. He is also Secretary General of the International Society of Public (ICON-S). His full bio follows below:

Lorenzo Casini (b. 1976) is Full Professor of Administrative Law at IMT School for Advanced Studies of Lucca (Italy). After graduating in Law cum laude (1999), he obtained a Ph.D. in European and Comparative Administrative Law from the University of Rome “Sapienza(2004). Since 2008 he has been involved in the Global Administrative Law Project at the New York University School of Law (where he has been Hauser Global Research Fellow in 2008-2009 and Hauser and Mauro Cappelletti Global Fellow in 2013). Since 2014 he has been working as legal counsel to the Italian Minister for Cultural Heritage and Tourism. From 2009 to 2014 he served as a law clerk to Justice Professor Sabino Cassese at the Constitutional Court of Italy. From 2012 to 2016 he has been Secretary general of the Institute for Research on Public Administration (IRPA). He has written several books and articles on cultural heritage, urban planning, comparative and global administrative law. He is on the board of editors of the International Journal of Constitutional Law, the Rivista trimestrale di diritto pubblico, and Aedon-Rivista di arti e diritto on line.

1. Tell us about something you are working on right now.

Since 2014 I have been working at the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism. This has allowed me to put in practice most of the issues I have been researching for years. Taking part in the first G7 meeting dedicated to culture (Florence, March 30-31, 2017) has also been a unique chance to further develop my experience in the field of law of cultural heritage. Cultural heritage isand will always be – my main area of research and I have just published a book on that: a Cultural Heritage Law textbook, written together with four colleagues of mine, is forthcoming this Fall. At the same time, I keep working on other topics related to international, public and administrative law, such as global governance and global administrative law.

2. How and when do you write? Do you have a routine or do you write whenever and wherever you find the time?

Writing is a never-ending process. Like thinking, hopefully. My “routine” is just writing, writing, and writing because language is like rubber. Since many years I type directly my thoughts, though some times I desperately need a pencil in order to build “my” outline. My motto is “rem tene, verba sequentur”: this works for speeches as well as for writing. I was also very lucky in meeting and working with – people who has always made me feel the need for continuously studying, learning and researching, sometimes by simply watching their life-style. My role model is Gene Wilder in the movie “Young Frankenstein”, when he travels from America to Transylvania (by train!), he never sleeps and he never stops working.

3. Whose scholarship jumps to the top of your reading list when she or he publishes something new? 

Joseph H.H. Weiler, Richard B. Stewart, Benedict Kingsbury, Sabino Cassese, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, to name but a few. But the priority of course is for anything published by I-CON!

4. Is there an article or book that influenced you as a law student and that continues today to be an important reference point for you?

All works written by John Henry Merryman (1920-2015). I first read his articles on cultural property in 1998, when I was in Law School writing my dissertation. His books and essays illuminated me and made me immediately understand the legal complexity of all different interests related to art and culture. You can imagine my emotion when I met him in 2008, after some years of exchanging emails on cultural property case studies: at the age of 88, he used to spend all morning working in his study at Stanford. John died in 2015 and we all miss him. He was a great comparative lawyer, who also built the basis of art law. The study of public law allowed me to properly deal with all of these topics: I am hugely grateful to Sabino Cassese and to Giulio Napolitano – and will always be deeply indebted to them – for showing me this path and wisely leading me along the way.

5. What are some of the big questions ripe for inquiry in your area of research interest?

In the field of cultural heritage law, the key question is always the same: Who owns the past? And this allows us to reflect on the very notion of cultural property and on its borders. Moreover, the recent decision by the International Criminal Court on the Al-Mahdi case – related to the destruction of cultural property in Mali – brought once again to the fore the importance of international criminal law in this field. Last May the Council of Europe has adopted a new Convention on crimes against cultural property. Therefore, some of the big questions are about what kind of legal instruments can truly protect world cultural heritage. And how does such protection relate to the field of human rights? Lastly, another important area of research is the relationship between public (law) and private (law) in the management of cultural heritage, namely with respect to cultural institutions, such as museums.

If we zoom out our view and we look at public law more in general, the study of the machine of government – how does it really work? who actually makes decisions? and with which kind of proceedings?is still a black hole in several countries. It is time to investigate such topics and how they interact with constitutional law and international law theories – especially because practices often challenge these latter or set them aside.

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Published on June 30, 2017
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