Law and Anthropology: Two Approaches to Normativity

Teaching Session

Department ‘Law & Anthropology’
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. An anthropological approach and understanding of this diversity and of the underlying normativity differs from law, but complements it. The objective of this training is to enable participants to reflect as to how an anthropological understanding of legal phenomena, normative frameworks, and practices can 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, ranging from 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 digitalization of society.

The training programme is divided into three parts:

1) Law and Anthropology – Concepts and Methods: The first part will introduce participants into the field of law and anthropology, and provide an overview of its key themes and concepts. It will also cover anthropology’s various methodological techniques.

2) Law and Anthropology in Practice: The second part will focus on the practice of doing legal anthropological research. Researcher fellows within the department will share concrete insights in their respective fields of research, and how they explored the boundaries of the law by making use of legal 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 course participants together with research fellows explore routes for applying qualitative research methods in their respective research field.

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

Full programme details to follow soon. Applications will be open six months in advance.

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17 Mar 2021 - 19 Mar 2021


All Day
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology


Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
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