Corruption and the Secret of Law: A Legal Anthropological Perspective, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Corruption and the Secret of Law

A Legal Anthropological Perspective, 1st Edition

By Gerhard Anders

Edited by Monique Nuijten


234 pages

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Paperback: 9780754676829
pub: 2009-02-10
Hardback: 9781138415461
pub: 2018-01-30
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315259208
pub: 2017-10-24
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This volume presents an anthropological perspective on the hidden continuities between corruption and law. The authors argue that the two opposites, corruption and law, are inextricably linked - with the possibility of the former already inscribed into the latter. Taking a critical stance towards the normative good governance agenda spearheaded by institutions such as Transparency International and the World Bank, this volume argues that by uncritically depicting corruption as an absolute evil, these anti-corruption programs disregard the close relationship that exists between corruption and state power. Addressing various aspects of a complex and ambivalent phenomenon, Corruption and the Secret of Law draws on studies from different parts of the world including Burundi, China, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the USA and provides a valuable resource for students, researchers and policy-makers working in this area.


'Through rich ethnographic studies, this groundbreaking volume considers new ways to think and theorise about "corruption", the law and (im)morality. It will redefine and productively reshape what we think we know about "corruption" in our world today.' Todd Sanders, University of Toronto, Canada 'This volume represents a theoretically sophisticated and ethnographically well-grounded exploration of the vernacular meanings of practices that may be termed "corrupt". The book shows that corruption is the obscene underside of the law, and that the moral outrage which corruption generates reflect a desire for "the law" to be more real and firm.' Thomas Blom Hansen, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Table of Contents

Contents: Corruption and the secret of law: an introduction, Gerhard Anders and Monique Nuijten. Part 1 Systemic Corruption and Bureaucratic Itineraries: Hidden acts, open talks. How anthropology can 'observe' and describe corruption, Giorgio Blundo; Deep corruption in Indonesia: discourses, practices, histories, Heinzpeter Znoj. Part 2 The Indeterminacy of the Law and the Legal Profession: Corruption judgments in pre-war Japan: locating the influence of tradition, morality, and trust on criminal justice, Andrew MacNaughton and Kam Bill Wong; Corrupted files: cross-fading defense strategies of a Vesuvian lawyer, Livia Holden and Giovanni Tortora. Part 3 Corruption Accusations and Political Imaginaries: Corruption narratives and the power of concealment: the case of Burundi's civil war, Simon Turner; The orchestration of corruption and excess enjoyment in Western Mexico, Pieter de Vries. Part 4 State Officials in the Twilight Zone: Corruption or social capital? Tact and the performance of guanxi in market socialist China, Alan Smart and Carolyn L. Hsu; Corruption in the US borderlands with Mexico: the 'purity' of society and the 'perversity' of borders, Josiah McC. Heyman and Howard Campbell; Index.

About the Author/Editor

Monique Nuijten, Associate Professor, Rural Development Sociology, Wageningen University and Research Centre, The Netherlands and Gerhard Anders, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

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 / Jurisprudence