• Law and law-like institutions are visible in human societies very distant from each other in time and space. When it comes to observing and analysing such social constructs historians, anthropologists, and lawyers run into notorious difficulties in how to conceptualize them. Do they conform to a single category of 'law'? How are divergent understandings of the nature and purpose of law to be described and explained? Such questions reach to the heart of philosophical
    attempts to understand the nature of law, but arise whenever we are confronted by law-like practices and concepts in societies not our own.

    In this volume leading historians and anthropologists with an interest in law gather to analyse the nature and meaning of law in diverse societies. They start from the concept of legalism, taken from the anthropologist Lloyd Fallers, whose 1960s work on Africa engaged, unusually, with jurisprudence. The concept highlights appeal to categories and rules. The degree to which legalism in this sense informs people's lives varies within and between societies, and over time, but it can colour
    equally both 'simple' and 'complex' law. Breaking with recent emphases on 'practice', nine specialist contributors explore, in a wide-ranging set of cases, the place of legalism in the workings of social life.

    The essays make obvious the need to question our parochial common sense where ideals of moral order at other times and places differ from those of modern North Atlantic governance. State-centred law, for instance, is far from a 'central case'. Legalism may be 'aspirational', connecting people to wider visions of morality; duty may be as prominent a theme as rights; and rulers from thirteenth-century England to sixteenth-century Burma appropriate, as much they impose, a vision of justice as
    consistency. The use of explicit categories and rules does not reduce to simple questions of power.

    The cases explored range from ancient Asia Minor to classical India, and from medieval England and France to Saharan oases and southern Arabia. In each case they assume no knowledge of the society or legal system discussed. The volume will appeal not only to historians and anthropologists with an interest in law, but to students of law engaged in legal theory, for the light it sheds on the strengths and limitations of abstract legal philosophy.

  • Paul Dresch Rules of Barat presents several eighteenth-century agreements among tribesmen from Jabal Barat, north-east of Yemen. These documents, previously unedited, shed new light on the history of customary law ('urf) in Yemen.

  • Mainstream historians in recent decades have often treated formal categories and rules as something to be used by individuals, as one might use a stick or stone, and the gains of an earlier legal history are often needlessly set aside. Anthropologists, meanwhile, have treated rules as analytic errors and categories as an imposition by outside powers or by analysts, leaving a very thin notion of practice as the stuff of social life. Philosophy of an older vintage,as well as the work of scholars such as Charles Taylor, provides fresh approaches when applied imaginatively to cases beyond the traditional ground of modern Europe and North America. Not only are different kinds of rules and categories open to examination, but the very notion of a rule can beexplored more deeply. This volume approaches rules and categories as constitutive of action and hence of social life, but also as providing means of criticism and imagination. A general theoretical framework is derived from analytical philosophy, from Wittgenstein to his critics and beyond, and from recent legal thinkers such as Schauer and Waldron. Case-studies are presented from a broad range of periods and regions, from Amazonia via northern Chad, Tibet, and medieval Russia to the scholarly worlds of Roman law,Islam, and Classical India. As the third volume in the Legalism series, this collection draws on common themes that run throughout the first two volumes: Legalism: Anthropology and History and Legalism: Community and Justice, consolidating them in a framework that suggests a new approach to rule-boundsystems.

  • Mainstream historians in recent decades have often treated formal categories and rules as something to be used by individuals, as one might use a stick or stone, and the gains of an earlier legal history are often needlessly set aside. Anthropologists, meanwhile, have treated rules as analytic errors and categories as an imposition by outside powers or by analysts, leaving a very thin notion of practice as the stuff of social life. Philosophy of an older vintage,as well as the work of scholars such as Charles Taylor, provides fresh approaches when applied imaginatively to cases beyond the traditional ground of modern Europe and North America. Not only are different kinds of rules and categories open to examination, but the very notion of a rule can beexplored more deeply. This volume approaches rules and categories as constitutive of action and hence of social life, but also as providing means of criticism and imagination. A general theoretical framework is derived from analytical philosophy, from Wittgenstein to his critics and beyond, and from recent legal thinkers such as Schauer and Waldron. Case-studies are presented from a broad range of periods and regions, from Amazonia via northern Chad, Tibet, and medieval Russia to the scholarly worlds of Roman law,Islam, and Classical India. As the third volume in the Legalism series, this collection draws on common themes that run throughout the first two volumes: Legalism: Anthropology and History and Legalism: Community and Justice, consolidating them in a framework that suggests a new approach to rule-boundsystems.

empty