Legal Theory in Africa: Between Legal Centralism and Legal Pluralism

Queen Mary Law Journal (2017)

13 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2017 Last revised: 20 Mar 2018

See all articles by Berihun Adugna Gebeye

Berihun Adugna Gebeye

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

Date Written: July 4, 2017

Abstract

The African legal universe is difficult to capture through the lens of legal centralism and legal pluralism. While the former excludes the pre-colonial African legal experience, the latter blurs the post-colonial legal dynamics. By employing Joseph Raz’s theory of legal system, this paper argues that there have been centralized legal systems and plural laws in Africa. Customary legal systems, colonial legal systems and constitutional legal systems have existed in pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial Africa respectively. Plural laws such as diverse customary and religious laws, imperial colonial laws, and statutory laws constituted these legal systems in different time and space. Hence, the quest for African legal theory rests in between legal centralism and legal pluralism.

Suggested Citation

Gebeye, Berihun Adugna, Legal Theory in Africa: Between Legal Centralism and Legal Pluralism (July 4, 2017). Queen Mary Law Journal (2017) , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2991040

Berihun Adugna Gebeye (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law ( email )

Im Neuenheimer Feld 535
69120 Heidelberg, 69120
Germany

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