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Anthony Di Fiore, Chair SAC 4.102, Mailcode C3200 78712 • 512-471-4206

Spring 2004

ANT 394M • Seminar on Anthropology of Law

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
0 T
3:30 PM-5:30 PM
TNH 3.114

Course Description

This seminar course adopts an anthropological perspective on law. It engages with legal pluralism in examining how law operates in a whole range of settings that extend beyond the formal legal system and court structures to other forums that deal with law in everyday life. The course draws on material from western and non-western countries (especially Africa) and examines the different ways in which disputes are handled according to concepts embracing ?indigenous?, ?customary? or ?informal? law and notions of ?popular justice?. It aims to explore a) how legal narratives are constructed; b) how these differ from narratives constructed by anthropologists and other social scientists; c) the problems associated with locating law in other societies; d) the techniques and methods that have been used to identify law in these different contexts and e) the contribution that anthropology has made to the study of law. Topics for the seminar will include Law as a Resource: A Human Rights Dimension; Customary Law and Law in the Colonial Context; The Gendered Nature of Law: Women?s and Men?s Narratives; and Anthropology and Law: Breaking Down the Barriers.


There is no set text for the course. Students will be referred to a number of books and articles throughout the seminars. These will include such works as History and Power in the Study of Law: New Directions in Legal Anthropology (1989), J, Starr and J. Collier (eds); People?s Law and state Law: The Bellagio Papers (1985), A. Allott and G. R. Woodman (eds); Human Rights, Culture and Context: Anthropological Perspectives (1997) R.Wilson (ed); In the Shadow of Marriage: Gender and Justice in an African Community (1997) A. Griffiths; Culture and Rights: Anthropological Perspectives on Law.


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