An Economic Interpretation of the Pashtunwalli
University of Chicago Law School
March 16, 2011
University of Chicago Legal Forum, Forthcoming
U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 548
This essay analyzes the Pashtunwalli, the tribal code of the Pashtuns, from a political economy perspective. Though it bears some similarity with customary laws of other Afghan tribes, the Pashtun customs are distinctive both for their persistence and harshness. The norms of the Pashtunwalli provide an illustration of the logic of retaliation in private legal systems as well as an institutional solution – the jirga – to minimize the threat of escalation. The paper also considers two normative problems associated with the Pashtunwalli: gender inequities and relatively high levels of violence. It considers a simple strategy for introducing greater normative coherence to the Pashtunwalli that might also ameliorate its morally troubling aspects – the expansion of literacy. While not a panacea, greater levels of education could potentially facilitate clearer substantive norms as well as improved quality of life for women.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: legal pluralism, private ordering
JEL Classification: K00
Date posted: March 23, 2011 ; Last revised: April 22, 2011
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