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Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

Department Law & Anthropology
Professor Dr Marie-Claire Foblets

Established in March 2012, the ‘Law & Anthropology’ Department’s point of departure is the observation that values and norms today are circulating ever more vigorously among diverse societies and cultures. With this intensification of exchanges and encounters comes an increasing demand for translation between different legal orders at various levels of decision making all over the world. This demand engages, among others, the disciplines of social anthropology and law. It requires them not only to confront their own serious epistemological and conceptual constraints, each from its own perspective, but also to examine the extent to which scholars of the disciplines in question can and should take responsibility for the impact and the effects these translations may have in practice.

The Department seeks to further these developments by combining the contributions to the study of law (both at the theoretical level and in terms of legal practice) made by anthropology, with its intrinsic concern for the culturally embedded nature of any normative ordering, with those made by jurisprudence in order to come to an empirically informed analysis of socio-legal processes. With this approach, the Department commits its research agenda to a concept of law in society that takes account both of the rule- and precedent-based approach commonly adopted in jurisprudence and legal studies, and the social anthropological approach to normativity, broadly defined.

Research Prorities

  • The accommodation of diversity in contemporary societies, with a particular interest in the increased interconnectedness of law and religion.
  • The concept of ‘human rights’, with all its manifold interpretations and potential contradictions, and how it is deployed in various settings.
  • Promoting the integration of anthropological research and legal practice
  • Comparison and comparability of concepts, procedures, institutions, practices, etc. within and across normative orders.

Joining the Institute

For further information and application please visit the Institute’s website: https://www.eth.mpg.de/2169/en



Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

Advokatenweg 36 
06114 Halle (Saale) 

Tel.: +49 (0) 345 2927 0 
Fax: +49 (0) 345 2927 502


For vacancies and speculative application: