12 February 2010

Ashgate on legal hybridity and theory

I was recently reminded that Ashgate published a number of texts last year in their Law, Justice, and Power series that were not noted here. These, with their Ashgate descriptions, include:

• TG Kirsch and B Turner (eds), Permutations of order: religion and law as contested sovereignties (2009)

Permutations of Order makes an innovative and important contribution to current discussions about the relationship between religion and law, bringing together theoretically informed case studies from different parts of the world, relating to various types of politico-legal settings and religions. This volume also deals with contemporary legal/religious transfigurations that involve "permutations," meaning that elements of "legal" and "religious" acts of ordering are at times repositioned within each realm and from one realm to the other. These permutations of order in part result from the fact that, in ethnographic settings like those examined here, "legal" and "religious" realms are relational to-and in certain cases even constitutive of-each other and they result in categoric transpositions and new social positionalities through which, among other things, "the legal" and "the religious" are blended. Permutations of Order is a work that transcends convention, identifies new and theoretically overarching themes and will be of strong interest to researchers and policy-makers seeking a comparative focus on the intersections and disjunctions of religion and law.

• E Melissaris, Ubiquitous law: legal theory and the space for legal pluralism (2009)

Ubiquitous Law explores the possibility of understanding the law in dissociation from the State while, at the same time, establishing the conditions of meaningful communication between various legalities. This book argues that the enquiry into the legal has been biased by the implicit or explicit presupposition of the State's exclusivity to a claim to legality as well as the tendency to make the enquiry into the law the task of experts, who purport to be able to represent the legal community's commitments in an authoritative manner. Very worryingly, the experts' point of view then becomes constitutive of the law and parasitic to and distortive of people's commitments. Ubiquitous Law counter-suggests a new methodology for legal theory, which will not be based on rigid epistemological and normative assumptions but rather on self-reflection and mutual understanding and critique, so as to establish acceptable differences on the basis of a commonality.

• F von Benda-Beckmann and K von Benda-Beckmann (eds), Spatializing law: an anthropological geography of law in society (2009)

Spatializing Law: An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society focuses on law and its location, exploring how spaces are constructed on the terrestrial and marine surface of the earth with legal means in a rich variety of socio-political, legal and ecological settings. The contributors explore the interrelations between social spaces and physical space, highlighting the ways in which legal rules may localise people's rights and obligations in social space that may be mapped onto physical space. This volume also demonstrates how different notions of space and place become resources that can be mobilised in social, political and economic interaction, paying specific attention to the contradictory ways in which space may be configured and involved in social interaction under conditions of plural legal orders. Spatializing Law makes a significant contribution to the anthropological geography of law and will be useful to scholars across a broad array of disciplines.

• F von Benda-Beckmann, K von Benda-Beckmann, and J Eckert (eds), Rules of law and laws of ruling: on the govenance of law (2009)

Offering an anthropological perspective, this volume explores the changing relations between law and governance, examining how changes in the structure of governance affect the relative social significance of law within situations of legal pluralism. The authors argue that there has been a re-regulation rather than a de-regulation, propagated by a plurality of regulative authorities and this re-regulation is accompanied by an increasing ideological dominance of rights talk and juridification of conflict. Drawing on insights into such processes, this volume explores the extent to which law is used both as a constitutive legitimation of governance and as the medium through which governance processes take place. Highlighting some of the paradoxes and the unintended consequences of these regulating processes and the ensuing dynamics, Rules of Law and Laws of Ruling will be a valuable resource for researchers and students working in the areas of legal anthropology and governance.

Students of legal hybridity and theory will be especially interested in these titles. Indeed, work of this sort suggests the potential value of conversations between comparatists and social scientists.

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