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Revisiting Critical Legal Pluralism: Normative Contestations in the Afghan Courtroom

  • Nafay CHOUDHURY (a1)

This paper revisits the concept of critical legal pluralism, which treats the individual as a site of normativity with the capacity to create legal knowledge. To help operationalize the usage of critical legal pluralism, I propose a methodological approach that places the individual’s ability to makes choices along a continuum. On one side of continuum, legal pluralism can be viewed as facilitating fully discrete choices that ascribe to one legal order or another. On the other side, the ability to make individual choices is curtailed because of the presence of a hegemonic legal order. This simple continuum helps to shed light on the complex considerations that affect individual choices, which in turn affect how various legal orders are legitimated. The paper then considers how critical legal pluralism can enrich the discussion on the legal system of Afghanistan, focusing on interviews with two Afghan justice actors: a former judge and an active defence lawyer.

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I thank Werner Menski for his thorough review of an earlier draft. Farhana Rahman provided helpful comments on the final paper. Siddiqullah Reshtya and Ahmed Shakir Morid provided me useful information on Afghanistan’s judiciary. I also benefitted from the feedback of five law students at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF): Meherafroz Ghani, Gharsanay Amin, Abdul Naser Rahmani, Sana Ahmadi, and Ahmad Ratib Nazari. A draft of this paper was presented at the Juris Diversitas Annual Conference at the University of Limerick, where I received rich feedback from the conference participants. Any errors are solely my own.


PhD Researcher, Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London. Previously Assistant Professor of Law at the AUAF. LL.B./B.C.L., McGill University; MA, Queen’s University; BA, McGill University.

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Asian Journal of Law and Society
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