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Legalism – Anthropology and History - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Legalism: Anthropology and History

Paul Dresch and Hannah Skoda


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 no ... More

Keywords: law, legalism, jurisprudence, social life, moral order, state-centred law, morality, Africa, simple law, complex law

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780199664269
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199664269.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Paul Dresch, editor
Fellow by Special Election, St John's College, Oxford, University Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Hannah Skoda, editor
Tutor and Fellow in history, St John's College, Oxford