The Empty Place: Legal Formalities and the Cultural State
Cornell University - Law School
This essay aims to provoke conversation about the hegemony of what it terms the Cultural State - a kind of legal managerialism predicated on a concern with carving out a space for cultural difference within a liberal capitalist political system - by tracing some of the troubling consequences of the culturalist foundations of debates about a particular kind of formalism in colonial Fiji. The essay then presents an anthropological understanding of the uses of legal formalities surrounding title registration by the victims of the Cultural State. The essay argues that, for Part-Europeans in Fiji, legal formalities created what it terms an Empty Place - a set of actual places shielded from the reach of the Cultural State, and also a set of anti-hegemonic possibilities for living in the shadow of the hegemony of identity and cultural politics. The essay culminates with an anthropologically based argument for the possibilities, rather than the constraints, to be found in legal form.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 53
Keywords: Formalism, Cultural State, legal formalities, Part-Europeans, Fiji, cultural politicsworking papers series
Date posted: March 12, 2002
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