Reflective Conversation: Revisiting and Revitalizing Ethnographies of Legislatures

Emergent Conversation 14

Edited by Neil Nory Kaplan-Kelly

Embed from Getty Images

Legislators (bottom in blue shirts) from Taiwans main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) display placards that read ‘invalid vote’ as they protest against Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s nomination of Chen Chu, former secretary general of the President Office, for the chairwoman of the Control Yuan, the country’s watchdog body of other branches of government, during voting at the parliament in Taipei on July 17, 2020. Photo by Sam Yeh / AFP) (Photo by SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of PoLAR‘s  publication of Ilana Gershon’s “Critical Review Essay: Studying Cultural Pluralism in Courts versus Legislatures.” This essay serves as a foundation for this conversation about anthropology’s interventions into legislative studies more broadly. Gershon’s argument that anything and anyone can be cultural in a legislative setting is pivotal for any discussion of how politics and democracy become governance and laws. Thus, this series celebrates Gershon’s contribution and creates a reflective moment for our field. The contributions in this series each build on Gershon’s ideas.


Neil Nory Kaplan-Kelly



Representation as Remediation in Courts and Legislatures

Francis Cody


Reluctant Anthropologists: Revealing but Rare Insights into Legislatures

Emma Crewe


“The Agonism at the Heart of a Law”: Engaging with Ilana Gerson while Researching Legislative Drafters

Emily Grabham



Moving Beyond Institutional Differences: Towards a Critical Anthropology of Law Beyond the Doctrine of Separation of Powers

Insa Koch


Legislative Anthropology: Precedent Explains Past Indifference, Offers Future Research Pathways

William Schumann


Response to Contributors

Ilana Gershon




Neil Nory Kaplan-Kelly




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