Blood, Land, and Sex: Legal Pluralism in Eritrea

5 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2012 Last revised: 30 Jul 2015

See all articles by Bijal Shah

Bijal Shah

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law


In their ethnography Blood, Land and Sex: Legal and Political Pluralism in Eritrea, Lyda Favali and Roy Pateman analyze legal pluralism and its practical feasibility in Eritrea. They do this by examining the customary Eritrean codes of blood feud and vengeance, land dispute, and gender relations. However, Blood, Land and Sex advocates a pluralistic system in a country that, until recently, was exceedingly distorted by Ethiopia’s colonization. This condition is ignored in the work, except as simplified within a discussion of land disputes. The authors thus fail to acknowledge that the newly independent Eritrea lacks procedural resources such as lawyers, judges, and systems for trial, all necessary for the effective creation and application of law. These shortages may not only create gaps between Eritrea’s legal aspirations and their implementation, but may hinder the development of those ideals themselves.

Keywords: Human rights, International law, Africa, Family law, Property, Post-colonial

Suggested Citation

Shah, Bijal, Blood, Land, and Sex: Legal Pluralism in Eritrea. Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, Vol. 7, No. 192, 2004. Available at SSRN:

Bijal Shah (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Phoenix, AZ
United States

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