W069
Law matters: mapping legal diversity

Convenors:
Gerhard Anders (University of Edinburgh)
Bertram Turner (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Stream:
Workshops
Location:
325
Start time:
27 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:
5

Short abstract:

The workshop will focus on current debates in legal anthropology, which owe a great deal to the work of scholars like Franz von Benda-Beckmann who mapped legal diversity and analysed the social working of law when it was less fashionable.

Long abstract:

Anthropology of law has made an overdue comeback into the centre of the discipline. Discussions about recent processes of globalisation, the postcolonial experience and cultural diversity often concern legal issues. These current debates owe a great deal to the work of scholars like Franz von Benda-Beckmann who mapped legal diversity and analysed the social working of law when it was less fashionable. Thanks to his and others' efforts the anthropological study of law and legal institutions has left the narrow confines of a sub-discipline on the wane and has been taken up across the discipline spurring new research agendas, and intensifying intra- and inter-disciplinary exchange. The law in its multifarious manifestations, be it state-law, customary law, religious law, transnational law or para-law, is not merely an instrument to address disputes or regulate social life but rather powerfully shapes people's ways of making sense of the world. The workshop is based on this conception of law in society and focuses on a number of central themes: From the margins: Claiming rights against the nation-state The limits of religious law: Islam and family law The politics of global order and the transnationalisation of law Contested diversity and conceptualisations of legal pluralism, The aim of this exercise is to investigate the appropriation of legal ideas and institutions and the production of legal knowledge in different inter-related local settings. The operation of power and the ways in which law is constituted by and constitutes social and cultural life will be central to our discussion.