The Future of Anthropology of Law

PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review’s sixth emergent conversation focuses on the futures of legal anthropology, recognizing the plurality of approaches to the anthropological study of law. It is provided as part of PoLAR Online’s mission to provide spaces for new conversations and debates related to political and legal anthropology.


1-kesselringRita Kesselring

My contribution to this debate on the future of legal anthropology takes up an old concern of the field, namely the relationship between the anthropology of law and social theory. [Read the full text]

2-kellyTobias Kelly

I think one of the most important moves over the last 30 years has been the shift from what might be called legal anthropology to the anthropology of law. [Read the full text]

3-babulElif Babül

I would like comment on two particular topics: the relationship between universal legal frameworks and local contexts and the effect of depoliticization that is often attributed to the employment of universal frameworks in local settings. [Read the full text]

4-sapignoliMaria Sapignoli

My contribution to this conversation… [is] based on my interest and experience in the study of global (legal) institutions and in the development of legal personality (including that of the non-human) and its implications for the construction of the social. [Read the full text]

Hugo Siles Nuñez del Prado - Maison de la Paix - GinebraMark Goodale

[An] anthropological orientation to law is not the same as to say that the anthropology of law is simply the study of law and society in the key of ethnography, or that it is the comparative version of what has more recently been called “empirical legal studies.” [Read the full text]

6-niezenRonald Niezen

I see the anthropology of law from two perspectives, one (from anthropology) centered on a critical approach to law, the other (from law) an applied approach to the tools of anthropology oriented toward making social science contributions to legal process. [Read the full text]

7-wilsonRichard Ashby Wilson

Since commentaries on the future are inherently commentaries on the present, this essay starts by identifying two emergent and lively theoretical discussions in the anthropology of law. [Read the full text]

Recommended Citation

Rita Kesselring, Elif Babül, Mark Goodale, Tobias Kelly, Ronald Niezen, Maria Sapignoli, and Richard Ashby Wilson. The Future of Anthropology of Law. Emergent Conversation. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review Online, 10 February 2017,

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