Law and Anthropology: Two Approaches to Normativity

Teaching Session

Professor Dr Marie-Claire Foblets, MPI for Social Anthropology

Law and legal practice inside and outside Europe are regularly challenged by an (increasing) diversity of cultures, communities, and practices within contemporary societies. Anthropology approaches this diversity and the normativities underlying it from an angle that is different from, yet complementary to, the legal lens. The objective of this teaching session is to enable participants to reflect on how an anthropological understanding of legal phenomena, normative frameworks, and practices can enrich legal thinking.

This three-day teaching session equips participants with basic theoretical and methodological knowledge of issues related to law and anthropology and offers concrete insights into how anthropology is being applied across a variety of legal fields, including general human rights protection, minority claims and rights, criminal law, the relationship between state and religion in a post-secular context, migration law and the meaning of vulnerability, and new legal challenges arising from climate change and the digitalisation of society.

The programme is divided into three parts:

1) Law and Anthropology — Concepts and Methods: This first part will provide participants an overview of key themes and concepts related to law and anthropology. It will also discuss some of anthropology’s core methodological techniques.

2) Law and Anthropology in Practice: The second part will focus on the practice of conducting legal anthropological research. Research fellows from the Department of Law and Anthropology will share insights from their respective fields of research and provide concrete illustrations of how they have explored the limits of the law by making use of anthropology and its rich theoretical and methodological toolset. This session will also address the benefits and the challenges of combining two disciplinary approaches.

3) Interactive group sessions: The final part will be an interactive session during which participants will team up with research fellows to explore the possibilities of applying qualitative research methods in their respective research fields.

Participants will receive in advance a comprehensive reader with relevant articles, including seminal literature in anthropology and more recent publications in the field of law dealing with a range of contemporary issues.

Applications will be open in due course.

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14 Oct 2020 - 16 Oct 2020


All Day
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology


Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
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