a1 Professor, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany
The article examines how the academic genre called the ‘anthropology of law’ or ‘legal anthropology’ developed under the disciplinary constraints of both the social and legal sciences. It first discusses its historical development and different trajectories and engages in a comparative analysis of similarities and differences between anthropologists, lawyers and sociologists of law. Finally, by looking at the ways in which cognitive and normative categories such as ‘legal anthropology’ are reproduced and changed through time, the article in itself is a legal anthropological exercise. The author concludes that there are hardly any identity markers left that would demarcate legal anthropology in a mutually exclusive way from other (sub)disciplines. The distinctiveness of legal anthropology rather lies in an accumulation of features, which make (legal) anthropology what it is, even if many features may be shared with other disciplines.
1 This paper is a revised version of a presentation at the International Workshop ‘Disciplining Anthropology: A Transatlantic Dialogue’, held at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, 22–23 February 2007.