Spatializing Law: An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Spatializing Law

An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society, 1st Edition

Edited by Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann


240 pages

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Spatializing Law: An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society focuses on law and its location, exploring how spaces are constructed on the terrestrial and marine surface of the earth with legal means in a rich variety of socio-political, legal and ecological settings. The contributors explore the interrelations between social spaces and physical space, highlighting the ways in which legal rules may localise people's rights and obligations in social space that may be mapped onto physical space. This volume also demonstrates how different notions of space and place become resources that can be mobilised in social, political and economic interaction, paying specific attention to the contradictory ways in which space may be configured and involved in social interaction under conditions of plural legal orders. Spatializing Law makes a significant contribution to the anthropological geography of law and will be useful to scholars across a broad array of disciplines.


'To spatialize law is to venture into exciting and still largely untracked space. This collection, which ranges from Glasgow to Sierra Leone, from Canada to Peru, provides detailed examples of the too-often overlooked entanglements of legal practice and knowledge with the foundational geographies of social and political life. Extending analyses of legal pluralism, Spatializing Law also reveals the presence of multiple legal geographies, materialized and fought over through maps, places, and spaces. Legal anthropology, critical legal geography, and socio-legal studies will be enriched by this important contribution.' Nicholas Blomley, Simon Fraser University, Canada 'Spatializing Law turns geography over, exposing its provisionality, contestability and high political stakes. The result is a collection that challenges conventional understandings about how and where regulation enters social life - through essays keyed to the contradictions of globalization viewed "from the ground" as disparate forms of alienation, attachment, governance and history-making.' Carol Greenhouse, Princeton University, USA

Table of Contents

Contents: Space and legal pluralism: an introduction, Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann and Anne Griffiths; Peasant community and territorial strategies in the Andean highlands of Peru, Monique Nuitjen and Davíd Lorenzo Rodríguez; Migrants, settlers and refugees: law and the contestation of 'citizenship' in Bhutan, Richard W. Whitecross; The spatial and temporal role of law in natural resource management: the impact of state regulation of fishing spaces, Melanie G. Wiber; The sultan's map. Arguing one's land in Pasir, Laurens Bakker; Contested spaces of authority in Indonesia, Franz von Benda-Beckmann and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann; The new global legal order as local phenomenon: the special court for Sierra Leone, Gerhard Anders; The myth of the transparent table: reconstructing space and legal interventions in Scottish children's hearings, Anne Griffiths and Randy F. Kandel; The regulation of commodity exchange in Southern Africa during the 8th to 15th centuries CE, Edwin N. Wilmsen; Can there be maps of law?, Maarten Bavinck and Gordon R. Woodman; Index.

About the Editors

Professor Franz von Benda-Beckmann is joint Head of the Project Group on Legal Pluralism at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. He is Honorary Professor for Ethnology at the University of Leipzig, and Honorary Professor for Legal Pluralism at the University of Halle. Keebet von Benda-Beckmann is joint Head of the Project Group on Legal Pluralism at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, and Professor in Anthropology of Law, Faculty of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam. She is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Law & Society Association. Dr Anne Griffiths is Professor of Law and Anthropology at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on anthropology of law, comparative and family law, African law, gender, culture and rights.

About the Series

Law, Justice and Power

Law, Justice and Power
To speak about law is always and necessarily to be engaged in a discourse about both justice and power. While law's relationship to justice is everywhere contingent and uncertain, law completely divorced from power is unthinkable. And, while law need not be virtuous to be law, if it had no effect in the world it could hardly be said to merit the name law. Recognizing these facts, the series on Law, Justice and Power takes a broad view of legal scholarship.It publishes books by social scientists, humanists and legal academics which connect an understanding of culture's normative ideals with examination of the complex ways that law works in the world, insist that justice is inseparable from social practices and analyze law as one form of power, one way of constituting, controlling and changing the social world. It focuses on state law as well as law in communities and cultural practices and on identities and their articulation in and through law, on law's power in the taken-for-granted world, on its role in the complex construction of nation and national power and on global developments which today destabilize and transform the meaning and significance of law. The series invites innovative scholarship that crosses disciplinary as well as geographic and temporal boundaries.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Jurisprudence