Anthropology & law

James M. Donovan, H. Edwin Anderson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


"The book contains many interesting observations and some useful insights and is most useful in some of the discussions of case material, especially of the history of case law on religion and cultural defense.". Focaal. "...insightful and interesting...One hopes that the practical approach to how practitioners in anthropology and law can better connect with one another, as well as how both fields can connect with the rest of the (non-anthropological and non-legal) real world, is here to stay through Donovan and Anderson's insightful work.". PoLAR. "...the book has much to offer to anthropologists....the authors present historical and other data suggesting that cooperation is increasing....the positive tone of the book certainly encourages more productive collaboration, and both disciplines would profit from attending to the directions offered herein...The volume effectively focuses attention on the intimate relationship between anthropology and law, and provides thought-provoking insights regarding their interdependence. A selected bibliography and useful index are presented in formats familiar to anthropologists.". Anthropos. "..I much appreciate the practical approach this book takes toward collaboration between anthropology and law in practice...One hopes [that it] is here to stay through Donovan and Anderson's insightful work.". PoLAR (The Political and Legal Anthropology Review). "The book has many positive features. The style is highly accessible and eminently readable. Written for audiences that will often be somewhat or entirely uninformed of at least one of the two disciplines under discussion, the book steers clear of technical jargon from either discipline. This renders it highly suitable for textbook purposes, especially for introductory courses. This is further strengthened by the excellent way in which the authors manage to provide many interesting illustrations and case studies to support their arguments." . Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law. The relationship between Law and Anthropology can be considered as having been particularly intimate. In this book the authors defend their assertion that the two fields co-exist in a condition of "balanced reciprocity" wherein each makes important contributions to the successful practice and theory of the other. Anthropology, for example, offers a cross-culturally validated generic concept of "law," and clarifies other important legal concepts such as "religion" and "human rights." Law similarly illuminates key anthropological ideas such as the "social contract," and provides a uniquely valuable access point for the analysis of sociocultural systems. Legal practice renders a further important benefit to anthropology when it validates anthropological knowledge through the use of anthropologists as expert witnesses in the courtroom and the introduction of the "culture defense" against criminal charges. Although the actual relationship between anthropology and law today falls short of this idealized state of balanced reciprocity, the authors include historical and other data suggesting that that level of intimate cooperation draws ever closer.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnthropology & Law
Number of pages229
ISBN (Electronic)9781782386063
StatePublished - Jul 15 2003

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2003 James M. Donovan and H. Edwin Anderson, III. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)


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