Law and Anthropology: Rethinking Normativities, Legal Dynamics, Approaches and Practices

18-20 May 2022

Max Planck Institute for the Social Anththropology  (MPI-Halle)

Prof. Foblets and Department “Law & Anthropology” researchers (MPI-Halle)

Law and legal practice inside and outside Europe are regularly challenged by an (increasing) diversity of cultures, communities and practices. Vis-à-vis the diversity of contemporary societies, law – intended as both legal practice and scholarship – and anthropology pursue aims and deploy ways of dealing with it which are different, but also complementary. The objective of this training is to enable participants to reflect as to how anthropological or anthropologically-informed understandings of legal texts, phenomena, approaches and practices can nuance and enrich legal thinking. 

This three-day training equips participants with basic theoretical and methodological knowledge of the field of law and anthropology, and offers concrete insights into how anthropology is being applied across different legal fields. Through introductory lectures and presentations given by departmental members on their research projects, participants will gain a general overview of what the field of law and anthropology (‘L&A’) is and may contribute to legal thinking. This training aims also to speak directly to the participants and their research projects with the aim to inspire a process of ‘rethinking’ on their part, under the lead of L&A scholars based at the department of ‘Law and Anthropology’ (MPI Halle) and beyond. Participants will have the unique opportunity to introduce their research projects to a community of L&A scholars, engage in small-group discussions directed to unpack critical concepts and reflect upon crucial questions at the core of L&A, as well as to benefit from one-to-one conversations with L&A scholars aimed to discuss (specific aspects of) their work in depth from an interdisciplinary perspective. Given the prominent role given to participants and the interactive atmosphere the training aims to create, the course is limited to 10-20 participants (from MPL as well as beyond). The event is planned in person. Some sessions – eg, introductory and keynote lectures – might be live-streamed.  

The training programme is divided into two main parts: 

1) Law and Anthropology – Concepts, Methods and Concrete Illustrations (day 1 and part of day 2): The first part will introduce participants into the field of L&A, provide an overview of its key themes and concepts. It will also outline core methodological positions and provide examples of techniques used in ethnographic fieldwork. This theoretical component will be complemented with concrete illustrations of what anthropological or anthropologically-informed approaches to legal thinking can actually produce. Researchers within the department as well as other renowned L&A scholars will share concrete insights in their respective fields of research, how they explored the boundaries of law by making use of anthropology and its rich theoretical and methodological toolset, and address the benefits and the challenges of combining two disciplinary approaches. These presentations will be organised around the department’s four major research themes – i.e., biomedical technologies and identity politics; environmental justice; minorities and their protection; and, migration – also taking into consideration the participants’ research interests and areas of work. Finally, in part 1 of the training, participants will be introduced to the department’s long-term project CUREDI (Cultural and Religious Diversity under State Law across Europe), a repository of cases concerning legal recognition of diversity in domestic European legal systems. 

2) Law and Anthropology – in Practice (part of day 2 and day 3): in this second part of the training, the focus will be placed on the participants and their research projects. Drawing on the knowledge and exposure to L&A gained on day 1 of the training and preparatory readings assigned in advance, participants will be invited to reflect and rethink their approaches to the study of law, the methods, the sources and the literature they make use of. This ‘rethinking exercise’ will be developed through small group discussions, one-to-one conversations with L&A researchers, and a final roundtable.   

Participants will receive in advance a comprehensive reader with articles, including both foundational literature in L&A anthropology as well as more recent works dealing with a diverse range of contemporary issues. 

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    Date

    18 May 2022
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