Festschrift for Carol Greenhouse

Original art by Caroline Offit.

Book after book, article after article, Carol Greenhouse has transformed what anthropologists study and developed contextually grounded techniques for understanding how others carve up the world. Carol Greenhouse was an important figure in the generation of political and legal anthropologists who made APLA, the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology, and the Law and Society Association into the collaborative scholarly communities they are today. This special online PoLAR forum in honor of Carol Greenhouse engages with the analytical possibilities her work opened for anthropologists by consistently modeling techniques of historical and thick reflexivity, showing how anthropological approaches to the law are informed by the anthropologist’s historical moment, often in unexpected and patterned ways.  In a series of key texts spanning four decades, beginning with her classic Praying for Justice (1986), she addressed the discursive knot connecting law-making and law-performing to anthropologists’ varied concerns, from constructing identity boundaries to fashioning economic rationalities.  In this forum, we explore the ways in which ethnography always weaves between three vibrant intellectual conversations—the anthropological theoretical debates of the moment, one’s fieldwork interlocutors’ pressing concerns, and the analytical possibilities opened up in that conjuncture. This reflexivity connects ethnographic projects on law’s potential and explicitness to the currents of the historical moment, including neoliberalization, criminalization, and the rise of far right authoritarian regimes, within specific regional histories.  Here, eight anthropologists explore what is made legible about their fieldwork projects when seen through this lens of thick reflexivity.

Edited by Ilana Gershon.


“The Cultural Prerequisites of Law”:  Engaging with the Work of Carol Greenhouse over Time

Susan Bibler Coutin



States of Uncertainty: The Origins of Law and Community in Three American Towns

David M. Engel



Twenty-First Century Drug Policy Reform: Marijuana Legalization and the Constitutive Contradictions of Neoliberalism

William Garriott



“Another Sense of the Project”

Emily Grabham




News from Within: Carol Greenhouse’s Subversive Vision

Elizabeth Mertz




The Cultural Logic of Legal Collaboration: Enduring Lessons from Hopewell

Anna Offit




so, what are we going to do about it?

Heath Pearson




“To See Society’s Heart in Its Mind”: Looking For Justice With Carol Greenhouse

Riaz Tejani







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