Anthropology | Law and Culture
E675 | 11578 | Stoeltje
Focusing on the relationship between law and society cross-culturally
this course examines systems developed by societies, small and large,
for resolving conflicts and for maintaining continuity and stability
over time. Consistent with the values and structures of a society,
legal systems set standards and establish rules, but they also provide
for the negotiation or resolution of disputes and differences through
courts or other dynamic sites of interaction. Moreover, in most
societies one finds more than one legal system operating, creating a
situation of legal pluralism. Building on these perspectives, the
class will explore anthropological studies of law within the following
categories: early studies by anthropologists of legal systems
considered “customary,” “folk,” or “indigenous,”; more recent studies
that take up problems such as “legal pluralism,” “law and
colonialism,” or the relationship between indigenous systems and the
state, or “access to justice” in any context. We will conclude with
attention to questions of human rights and intangible cultural
property. The course emphasizes the actual performance and practice
of legal systems in courts or other contexts. The various legal
systems represented in the readings and presentations will include
selected ones from Native American, African, Trobriand Islands, and
Islamic societies, as well as studies addressing contemporary issues
such as human rights, gender and law, cultural justice, and
intellectual property. Guest speakers will speak on specific problems
in the anthropology of law.
Students will write reviews of specific readings and present them in
class each week. Two papers will be required: one short paper at
mid-point through the semester, and one long paper (20 pages) at the
end of the semester on a specific legal system in a specific culture,
or, on a specific problem in the anthropology of law identified in the
class (e.g., legal pluralism, human rights, gender and law,
restorative justice, etc.).
Readings will be available through e reserves and textbooks.
Additional readings will be placed on reserve.
Texts: Moore, Sally Falk. Law and Anthropology. Blackwell. 2005.
Sarat, Austin & Thomas Kearns, eds. Law in the Domains of Culture.
University of Michigan Press. 1998.
Readings from Stoeltje, Beverly, ed. Women, Language, and Law in
Africa. Special Issue of Africa Today. Vol. 49. 2002.
Readings from POLAR. Politica and Legal Anthropoogy Review.
Readings from Folk Law, vols. 1 and 2. Alan Dundes and Alison Renteln.