The Ashes of Law – Book Review; Franz Von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet Von Benda-Beckmann and Julia Eckert, eds., Rules of Law and Laws of Ruling: On the Governance of Law, Burlington, Ashgate, 2009
European Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 169-180, 2010
12 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2011
Date Written: 2010
This review essay discusses in detail a recent volume of theoretically informed legal anthropological articles dealing with the intrinsic relationship between law, power and violence in the exercise of governance. The book offers a step forward in legal research by bridging the gap between legal and social theory. However, the volume is also tributary of the methodological problems that arise with this approach. I focus on several issues. First, and persistently, the lack of an analytical distinction between law/non law makes difficult to understand exactly through which medium is power exercised. Second, in most contributions the normative assumptions underpinning them are not spelled out and/or discussed. Thirdly, most case studies work with insufficiently complex conceptualizations of society. Fourthly, few essays manage to distinguish between first and second-order problems associated to law. Due to these four methodological shortcomings, the purchase of critical legal anthropology, namely to offer a better understanding of the case studies, is seriously restricted.
Keywords: Governance, Governmentality, Law, Power, Legal Anthropology, Legal Pluralism, Legal Theory
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