Anthropology | Law and Culture
E475 | 0471 | Greenhouse


The focus of this course is on law as cultural practice, as well as medium,
forum, and discourse of difference.    Starting with the dual premises that
all states are multicultural and transnational, we focus on the ways states
become implicated (sometimes positively, sometimes negatively) in everyday
life, as well as on the ways state institutions change in response to
citizen's appeals for change or demands for redress.  Our perspective is
ethnographic and comparative.  We begin by exploring the idea of difference
as a proposition about personal identification with others, drawing on a
variety of theoretical perspectives.  Next, we consider how the
possibilities for affirming difference are opened and foreclosed by legal
institutions (among others).  Finally, we consider legal institutions
themselves as objects of contestation, e.g., in autonomy movements and
other social struggles.  Overall, our purpose in this discussion-oriented
seminar is to develop some comparative questions about the dynamics of  law
as a domain of social action  and to stress the open future such dynamics
imply.  Course readings will emphasize recent books and articles about
current issues; students will have the option of writing a series of short
papers or one article-length research paper.