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date: 23 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Since the turn of the century, the term “legal pluralism” has seen a remarkable rise in interest. It is now widely accepted, although it was long rejected in legal studies. When legal anthropologists began to refer to “legal pluralism” in the 1970s, this marked a crucial change in anthropological thinking about law. Since then, not only have political and economic developments profoundly changed constellations of legal pluralism but also the term itself has followed a variety of trajectories and accrued multiple meanings in the process. In particular, in the trajectory of global legal pluralism, it has acquired a normative meaning that is quite distinct from its use in anthropology as a tool of analysis. This chapter discusses how the anthropological study of law and legal pluralism developed from the study of law in colonial societies toward empirical studies in postcolonial settings and in nation-states around the globe under conditions of ever-increasing global connectedness and complexity. Global legal pluralism is analyzed in relation to topics that include law and development, religion, human rights, minorities, indigeneity, and politics of global legal pluralism. At the end the chapter offers an outlook into future anthropological research on global legal pluralism. Insights were developed not only in response to sociopolitical developments but also to changing theoretical perspectives.

Keywords: Legal pluralism, legal complexity, anthropology of law, postcolonialism, customary law, nomosphere, interlegality, transnationalization, indigenous law, law and religion, materiality, and technology.

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