Commission on Legal Pluralism


Successful legal pluralism course and conference in Manchester

The Commission on Legal Pluralism looks back on a successful set of events in the United Kingdom. Being affiliated to the International Union for Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), we took part in the 17th World Congress entitled ‘Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds’, that occurred on August 5-10, 2013 at the University of Manchester. Members of the Commission organised approximately 20 sessions (60 papers) in this larger conference on a variety of topics, ranging from classics on land and natural resources, to discussions on public morality, securitization, and the specific position of children and young children.  For specifics see the conference programme book on  or this short review of the conference by University of Amsterdam MA student Eline Peters.

Prior to the conference the Commission continued its tradition of arranging a course on legal pluralism for young scholars and practitioners (August 1-4, 2013). This course, which also took place on the premises of the University of Manchester, included eight teachers and seventeen participants, mainly from Europe. It was concluded with a field trip to the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal at Nuneaton. 

The Commission also made use of the opportunity  to hold its general body meeting. This meeting, which was attended by more than 50 members and non-members, ended with a reception hosted by Taylor & Francis on the occasion of the re-launching of the Journal of Legal Pluralism. 

The next international conference of the Commission on Legal Pluralism will be hosted by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai, India, on December 14-17, 2015. Please note these dates! We look forward to seeing you all there.



 The Commission on Legal Pluralism at the Manchester Conference 2013

download the full text of the call that was sent out here.

Over the last decade 'legal pluralism' has become a buzzword. In various areas of legal study, ranging from international law to constitutionalism, and in various policy oriented fields - such as the proliferation of rights based movements, politics of cultural diversity or access to justice programs - the concept of legal pluralism has gained momentum. In the process a plurality of legal pluralisms has come about. The Commission on Legal Pluralism - inspired by the theme of the IUAES Congress 'Evolving humanity, emerging worlds', which is normative and analytical at the same time - stands by its 30 year old agenda, which merges the concerns of social anthropology and law in the study of society and in the resolution of social problems. It invites scholars and practitioners to present contemporary work to the 2013 Conference.  There are many topics of classical, yet still urgent concern: these include contestations over property, land and natural resources, gender, human rights, religion, development cooperation, migration, and governance. We urge those who have continued to work in these areas to present their insights and discoveries for debate.

However, our 'emerging worlds' continuously generate further topics of attention. These topics are of two kinds: novel forms of norm-generating capacity and under-researched forms of normative intersection. In such pluralisms the normative interacts with science, technology and knowledge production, with tenets of faith, and the ever changing schemes of profit making, propertization and commodification.  Such areas deserve attention as they also affect our classic fields of research or have developed from there. Whereas much of the scholarly work on legal pluralism has concentrated on rural areas, where folk law is frequently strong, urban space - which now gathers approximately 50% of the world population - has been widely neglected.  So has the study of banking and financial flows, so crucial for economic wellbeing.  Processes of 'securitizing', 'auditizing' and 'responsibilization', which are influencing more and more dimensions of social life, too deserve investigation from the angle of legal pluralism.

In all this we, the Commission, are concerned about who wins and who loses. For humanity - taken in its normative sense - to evolve, scholars and practitioners must gather their forces. We look forward to a conference that catalyzes attention for a sparkling variety of topics and concerns, and serves as a further source of inspiration. 




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