The Challenge of Legal Pluralism: Local dispute settlement and the Indian-state relationship in Ecuador, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Challenge of Legal Pluralism

Local dispute settlement and the Indian-state relationship in Ecuador, 1st Edition

By Marc Simon Thomas


256 pages

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Hardback: 9781472480576
pub: 2016-09-19
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315614380
pub: 2016-09-13
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Within the Latin American context, legal pluralism is often depicted as a dichotomy between customary law and national law. In addition, the use of customary law alongside national law is frequently portrayed as a vehicle of resistance.

This book argues that, because ordinary Indians are not positively biased in favor of customary law per se, a heterogeneity of legal practices can be observed on a daily basis, which consequently undermines the commonly held view of customary law as a "counter-hegemonic strategy", even if, on other socio-geographical levels, this thinking in terms of resistance holds true. Based on qualitative research, the work analyzes how internal conflicts among indigenous inhabitants of the Ecuadorian highlands are being settled in a situation of formal legal pluralism, and what can be learned from this in terms of Indian-state relationships. It is shown that, on a local level, the phenomenological dimension of legal pluralism can be termed "interlegality." On a macro level, ontological assumptions underscore that legal pluralism is still seen as a dichotomy between customary and national law.

Multidisciplinary in nature, the book will be of interest to academics and researchers working in the areas of Legal Pluralism, Cultural Anthropology and Latin American Studies.


‘We have long needed a serious study of the Indigenous justice systems that recent constitutional revisions created in Ecuador. The thoughtful and compelling analysis in this book excels at advancing our understandings of these legal innovations, and their promises and shortcomings in the creation of a more just society.’

Professor Marc Becker, Truman State University, USA

Table of Contents

  1. An Introductory Overview
  2. Legal Pluralism, Multiculturalism, and the State
  3. Legal Pluralism in Ecuador
  4. The Parish of Zumbahua: Cohesion and Conflict
  5. Conflicts, Authorities and Procedures
  6. Interlegality at the Teniente Político’s Office
  7. Trouble in Tigua
  8. The La Cocha-Guantópolo Murder Case
  9. Conclusion

About the Author

Marc Simon Thomas is a researcher in the Montaigne Centre for Judicial Administration and Conflict Resolution, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. His research and publications are focused on dispute settlement, legal anthropology and legal pluralism.

About the Series

Cultural Diversity and Law

Cultural Diversity and Law
Around the world, most states are faced with difficult issues arising out of cultural diversity in their territories. Within the legal field, such issues span across matters of private law through to public and constitutional law. At international level too there is now considerable jurisprudence regarding ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. In addition, there are several layers of legal control - from communal and religious regulation to state and international regulation. This multiplicity of norm setting has been variously termed legal pluralism, inter-legality or inter-normativity and provides a fascinating lens for academic analysis that links up to cultural diversity in new and interesting ways. The umbrella of cultural diversity encompasses various population groups throughout the world ranging from national, ethnic, religious or indigenous groupings. This series particularly welcomes work that is of comparative interest, concerning various state jurisdictions as well as different population groups.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General