Mitra Sharafi


Sharafi explores the emergence of legal pluralism during 1970s and 80s and discusses its relation in the cultural defense. Legal pluralism was more than a methodological stance intended to help lawyers and anthropologists talk to each other; it was an ideological commitment. In the 1980s, scholars like Marc Galanter and Sally Merry inaugurated the legal-pluralist sequel to the "what-is-law" debate between legal positivists and natural-law advocate. There are two major changes in the conception of legal pluralism brought about by the works of Galanter and his colleagues. The first was the shift from the understanding of legal pluralism as a plurality of norms administered by the state-the model embodied by Hooker's classic study--to an understanding of a plurality existing beyond the state. The second was an attempt to get beyond Hooker in a geographical sense. Meanwhile, Sharafi asserts that work on the cultural defense has exposed binaries that complicate the earlier division between left-leaning pluralists and legal centralists, adding the feminist-versus-pluralist opposition into the mix.

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