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Public Justice and the Anthropology of Law


Part of New Departures in Anthropology

  • Date Published: October 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521152204

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About the Authors
  • In this powerful, timely study Ronald Niezen examines the processes by which cultural concepts are conceived and collective rights are defended in international law. Niezen argues that cultivating support on behalf of those experiencing human rights violations often calls for strategic representations of injustice and suffering to distant audiences. The positive impulse behind public responses to political abuse can be found in the satisfaction of justice done. But the fact that oppressed peoples and their supporters from around the world are competing for public attention is actually a profound source of global difference, stemming from differential capacities to appeal to a remote, unknown public. Niezen's discussion of the impact of public opinion on law provides fresh insights into the importance of legally-constructed identity and the changing pathways through which it is being shaped - crucial issues for all those with an interest in anthropology, politics and human rights law.

    • An original analysis of pressing issues in international human rights law
    • A distinguished author with an international reputation
    • Will appeal to a wide range of readers across the disciplines of law, anthropology, political science and sociology
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In sum, this is a provocative and important book that makes a significant shift in the way we understand human rights, moving from a law frame to one that emphasizes communication, the construction of broad systems of understanding, and the role of amorphous and unknowable public.' Sally Merry, New York University

    'This is a highly original book, combining intellectual flair, historical insight and ethnographic knowledge of local indigenous rights movements, national government institutions and the international settings of global governance. Public Justice and the Anthropology of Law integrates both the social movements and legal aspects of human rights in a rewarding theoretical synthesis.' Richard Wilson, University of Connecticut

    'This fascinating and unusual book carries ethnographic unboundedness to extremes.' Anthony Good, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521152204
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The imagined order
    2. The power of persons unknown
    3. Cultural lobbying
    4. The invention of indigenous peoples
    5. Civilizing a divided world
    6. Reconciliation
    7. Juridification.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Anthropology and Human Rights (Continuing Ed.)
    • Transnational Human RIghts
  • Author

    Ronald Niezen, McGill University, Montréal
    Ronald Niezen is Professor of Anthropology and Canada Research Chair at McGill University. He has a wide range of international research experience, including work with the UN Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Arctic Council. His publications include Defending the Land: Sovereignty and Forest Life in James Bay Cree Society, 2nd edition (2008) and The Rediscovered Self: Indigenous Identity and Cultural Justice (2009).

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