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The Power of Law in a Transnational World: Anthropological Enquiries

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The Power of Law in a Transnational World

Anthropological Enquiries

Edited by Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann and Anne Griffiths

280 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-423-4 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (May 2009)

ISBN  978-0-85745-615-1 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (April 2012)

eISBN 978-1-84545-916-1 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…essential reading for scholars interested in understanding sociopolitical change under globalization in the early 21st century…I recommend [this volume] for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in legal anthropology, political anthropology, the anthropology of the state, and globalization. Several chapters could also be creatively woven into courses on the anthropology of religion.  ·  PoLAR

"...there is much common ground between the contributors, and the variety of contexts and situations are valuable for showing how the unifying themes… work out on different grounds."  ·  Journal of Legal Pluralism

"This fascinating collection of articles sheds new light on the way law exercises power in a transnational world, from the crises of terrorism to the subtle introduction of new law within development projects. This set of articles provides new evidence of the important insights offered by legal pluralism and anthropological methodologies for understanding the nature of transnational, national, and local systems of law."  ·  Sally Engle Merry, New York University


How is law mobilized and who has the power and authority to construct its meaning? This important volume examines this question as well as how law is constituted and reconfigured through social processes that frame both its continuity and transformation over time. The volume highlights how power is deployed under conditions of legal pluralism, exploring its effects on livelihoods and on social institutions, including the state. Such an approach not only demonstrates how the state, through its various development programs and organizational structures, attempts to control territory and people, but also relates the mechanisms of state control to other legal modes of control and regulation at both local and supranational levels.

Keebet von Benda-Beckmann is head of the Project Group Legal Pluralism at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. She also is an honorary professor in Leipzig and Halle. Her research in Indonesia and the Netherlands focuses on legal pluralism, social security, governance and on the role of religion in disputing processes.

Franz von Benda-Beckmann is head of the Project Group Legal Pluralism at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. He also is an honorary professor in Leipzig and Halle. His research in Malawi and Indonesia focuses on property and inheritance, social security, governance and legal anthropological theory.

Anne Griffiths has a personal chair in Anthropology of Law at the University of Edinburgh in the School of Law. Her major research interests include anthropology of law, comparative and family law, African law, gender, culture and rights. She has been awarded research grants from the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (USA), the Annenberg Foundation (USA), the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Commonwealth Foundation, the Carnegie Trust and the American Bar Foundation.

Subject: Anthropology (General)



Introduction: The Power of Law
Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann and Anne Griffiths


Chapter 1. The Military Order of 13 November 2001: An Ethnographic Reading
Carol J. Greenhouse

Chapter 2. Law and the Frontiers of Illegalities
Laura Nader

Chapter 3. Selective Scrutiny: Supranational Engagement with Minority Protection and Rights in Europe
Jane K. Cowan

Chapter 4. The Globalization of Fatwas amidst the Terror Wars against Pluralism
Upendra Baxi

Chapter 5. Human Rights, Cultural Relativism and Legal Pluralism: Towards a Two-dimensional Debate
Franz von Benda-Beckmann


Chapter 6. Learning Communities and Legal Spaces: Community based Fisheries Management in a Globalizing World
Melanie G. Wiber and John F. Kearney

Chapter 7. Project Law – a Power Instrument of Development Agencies: A Case Study from Burundi
Markus Weilenmann

Chapter 8. Half-Told Truths and Partial Silence: Managing Communication in Scottish Children’s Hearings
Anne Griffiths and Randy F. Kandel


Chapter 9. Keeping the Stream of Justice Clear and Pure: The Buddhicization of Bhutanese Law
Richard W. Whitecross

Chapter 10. Balancing Islam, Adat and the State: Comparing Islamic and Civil Courts in Indonesia
Keebet von Benda-Beckmann

Chapter 11. Kings, Monks, Bureaucrats and the Police: Tibetan Responses to Law and Authority
Fernanda Pirie

Notes on Contributors

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