Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Anthropology of Law
Mark Goodale & Elizabeth Mertz
The anthropology of law studies legal systems, law, and law-like social phenomena and takes as its foundation the anthropological insight that law cannot be meaningfully understood apart from wider culture and society. Although there have always been diverse schools of thought within the anthropology of law regarding appropriate goals, theories, epistemologies, and sometimes even methods, scholars in this area share a commitment to intensive and rigorous field methodologies requiring extensive involvement in the communities and social fields under study. In addition, legal anthropologists share another general foundational precept of their discipline, which requires (to at least some degree) a careful bracketing of the field-workers' own categories and presumptions to generate a more accurate picture of their informants' lived experiences. Scholars recognize the anthropology of law—or legal anthropology—as a formal anthropological subdiscipline, particularly among American cultural and British social anthropologists. In the United States, the Association of Political and Legal Anthropology, ...