27 August 2007

Law & Politics Book Review: Werner Menski's 'Comparative Law in a Global Context'

Law & Politics Book Review has an extensive review by Maxwell O. Chibundu (Maryland Law) of the second edition of Comparative Law in a Global Context: The Legal Systems of Asia and Africa (Cambridge UP, 2006) by Werner Menski (SOAS London). This is from the review:

"This is a sprawling, engaged and engaging study in comparative jurisprudence. It provides, as the title indicates, an extended comparative study of the legal systems that function in Africa and Asia, notably those of “Hindu law,” “Islamic law,” “African laws” and “Chinese law.” But it seeks to do much more than that. It takes on conventional claims in contemporary Anglo-American jurisprudence on the nature, sources and scope of law, and finds the dominant accounts of the concept of law within this jurisprudence flawed and incomplete." (...)

"Menski’s core thesis is that the search for a uniform set of rules for a global order is bound to be futile because laws embody and reflect the socio-cultural particulars and experiences of functioning societies, and which, although transmitted longitudinally within the society, are nonetheless complex, fluid and dynamic. Any adequate theory of law and of a legal order therefore must, among other considerations, take account of the particularized socio-political institutions of the society, that society’s belief systems, its politics and its history. The one universal characteristic of all legal systems, he claims, is thus the inherent tendency towards “plurality-consciousness.”" (...)

"Teachers who are genuinely interested in arming their students with effective long-term tools with which to deal in a heterogeneous world, as it in fact is, has been, and will likely remain, should find this book very helpful."

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