Robert Cover and Legal Pluralism

7 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2019

See all articles by Perry Dane

Perry Dane

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers Law School

Date Written: December 18, 2018


This short talk focuses on three aspects of Robert Cover's brand of legal pluralism: First, Cover's account of legal pluralism went beyond the simple recognition of non-state legal orders; just as important for him was the claim that non-state communities could generate and defend distinct readings of the state's own legal order. Second, Cover's jurisprudence assigned a central role to state violence and non-state communities' resistance. Violence and resistance were vital to his account not only because they are the way of the world but because they help render legal pluralism real. Third, Cover's well-known focus on the narrative dimension of the law was intertwined with his famous image of the law as a bridge between the present world and the ideal. Both the real and the ideal are narratives – stories – and that law is, in a sense, the feat of engineering that connects these two separated narratives.

Keywords: Robert Cover, legal pluralism, law and narrative, law and society, popular constitutionalism

Suggested Citation

Dane, Perry, Robert Cover and Legal Pluralism (December 18, 2018). Rutgers Law School Research Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Perry Dane (Contact Author)

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers Law School ( email )

Camden, NJ
United States
856-225-6004 (Phone)
856-225-6004 (Fax)


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