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Cultures of Law begin with a focus on the early themes and concepts that laid down the anthropological foundations and understandings of law and social order. Through an ethnographic approach, it will examine; (a) how social practices in different cultures shape one’s understandings of laws and customs; (b) the different legal sensibilities across societies; (c) the constitution of customary laws and colonialism in different societies; (d) colonialism and the emergence of new definitions of law and order. Focusing particularly on former colonies in non-western societies, students will explore themes of customary law, kinship networks, processes of arbitration in customary courts (in Asia and Africa), and the connection between colonialism and legal systems in the global south. The core readings will consist of anthropological texts about processes of arbitration, judgment, law and customs, and judicial processes to focus on interpretation of rights, justice, and definitions of law and order in the contemporary world.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject students should:
- Demonstrate the ability to critically apply cross-cultural and anthropological perspectives to understand about the mechanisms of law, justice, order, and rules;
- Articulate the process through which social practices and behaviour of individuals influence customs and social order in societies;
- Demonstrate the ability to engage and think about everyday experiences of establishing law and order, and authority, across different societies from Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe;
- Understand the relationship between notions of customs and regulations, and the processes of justice, order, and the law via interdisciplinary approaches.
Through this subject, the student will:
- Acquire analytical skills to analyse cultural and social differences in real life situations;
- Acquire reflective skills that accommodate multiple perspectives;
- Acquire written and verbal communication skills to construct coherent and convincing arguments.
Last updated: 16 June 2021