Legal Anthropology: An Introductory Guide to Legal Pluralism

23 oct 2023 - 3 nov 2023

Course in the Module "Anthropology of Law" (3 ECTS)

The students are taken along on a journey of exploring law from a law-and-society perspective, situating state-law in the context of the wide range of interacting norms generated by different social actors in a globalised world. This journey enters a universe of plurality of co-existing normative orders, generated and used by complex actor constellations, with different sources of legitimacy.

In preparation for this journey, the students will be equipped with basic terms, analytical concepts and methodological tools developed in the broader field of legal anthropology (involving the nature of law and legal process, the relationship between legal and social science approaches to legal phenomena and the interpretation of law in social context). Particularly, the concepts of legal pluralism, travelling models and cultural translation as well as thick legal comparison will facilitate the voyage into norm-generating and norm-upholding processes taking place at international, national and local levels. It examines effects of transnational relations and globalisation on law, culture and rights at different levels.

This allows to better understand the making of law and how law travels through processes of contact and exchange and is constantly produced in processes of negotiations.

Being equipped with this analytical and methodological backpack, we can explore real-life implications of questions that are related to the encounter between state and non-state legal orders, between legal cultures in the Global North and the Global South, in colonial and post-colonial international developments, thereby enabling a better understanding of socio-legal practices of state formation, human rights or citizenship. Our journey will enable us to more profoundly discuss issues such as internationalised governance and constitution-making and the rule-of-law through reflecting on case studies, as well as through a role play.