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Fall 2022 Course

The Anthropology of Law: Classical, contemporary, comparative, and critical perspectives

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

The early weeks will be devoted to (i) classical themes in the field, among them the legal anthropology of conflict/dispute and the practical hermeneutics of the law in cross-cultural perspective; this will be followed by a discussion of (ii) “big” theoretical questions, old and new, including relationship between law and violence, the nature of sovereignty, and the (alleged) fetishism human rights. The later weeks will address (iii) the legal anthropology of colonialism and postcoloniality, addressing law and colonial state and the invention of customary law, postcolonialism and policulturalism, and law, disorder, and informal (“vigilante”) justice; (iv) crime and policing, and finally (v) lawfare, life, and the judicialization of politics. Throughout, attention will be given to comparative perspectives in both time and space – and to the lessons to be learned from the anthropology of law, and its decoloniality, for interrogating the present moment in the USA, Europe, and Africa. Each session, with the exception of the first (September 6), will begin with an overview of the topic under discussion, and end with a summary statement; in between, the set readings will be introduced by participants in the course, who will be expected to offer a critical synopsis of the most significant points at issue and raise questions for our collective conversation. Grades will be determined by a term paper no longer than 15 pages (d/s, excl. notes + bib), on any one of the topics covered, and by class participation.

Note: This course is jointly-listed with FAS as AAAS 190X. This course will meet at FAS according to the FAS Academic Calendar.