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Law, Anthropology, and the Constitution of the Social


  • Page extent: 324 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.635 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 340/.115
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: K487.A57 L384 2004
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Law and anthropology
    • Persons (Law)
    • Things (Law)

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521831789 | ISBN-10: 0521831784)

This collection of interdisciplinary essays explores how persons and things - the central elements of the social - are fabricated by legal rituals and institutions. The contributors, legal and anthropological theorists alike, focus on a set of specific institutional and ethnographic contexts, and some unexpected and thought-provoking analogies emerge from this intellectual encounter between law and anthropology. For example, contemporary anxieties about the legal status of the biotechnological body seem to resonate with the questions addressed by ancient Roman law in its treatment of dead bodies. The analogy between copyright and the transmission of intangible designs in Melanesia suddenly makes western images of authorship seem quite unfamiliar. A comparison between law and laboratory science presents the production of legal artefacts in new light. These studies are of particular relevance at a time when law, faced with the inventiveness of biotechnology, finds it increasingly difficult to draw the line between persons and things.

• Collaboration between leading writers in the field of legal and anthropological theory • Innovative accounts of law • A comparative approach to ownership


Notes on contributors; 1. Introduction: the fabrication of persons and things Alain Pottage; 2. Res Religiosae: on the categories of religion and commerce in Roman law Yan Thomas; 3. Scientific objects and legal objectivity Bruno Latour; 4. Legal fabrications and the case of 'cultural property' Tim Murphy; 5. Ownership or office? A debate in Islamic Hanafite jurisprudence over the nature of the military 'fief', from the Mamluks to the Ottomans Martha Mundy; 6. Gedik: a bundle of rights and obligations for Istanbul artisans and traders, 1750–1840 Engin Deniz Akarli; 7. Losing (out on) intellectual resources Marilyn Strathern; 8. Re-visualising attachment: an anthropological perspective on persons and property forms Susanne Küchler; 9. Our original inheritance Alain Pottage; Bibliography; Index.


Alain Pottage, Yan Thomas, Bruno Latour, Tim Murphy, Martha Mundy, Engin Deniz Akarli, Marilyn Strathern, Susanne Küchler

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