‘Does Law Matter to Anthropology?’

A Comment

in Journal of Legal Anthropology
Restricted access

This provocative question became the basis for a spirited discussion at the 2017 meeting of the American Anthropological Association. My first reaction, on hearing the question, was to ask, does anthropology care whether it matters to law? As a discipline, anthropology and the anthropology of law are producing excellent scholarship and have an active scholarly life. But in response to this forum’s provocation article, which clearly outlines the lack of courses on law and anthropology in law schools, I decided that the relevant question was, why doesn’t anthropology matter more to law than it does? The particular, most serious concern appears to be, why are there not more law and anthropology courses being offered in law schools? It is increasingly common for law faculty in the United States to have PhDs as well as JDs, so why are there so few anthropology/law PhD/JD faculty? Moreover, as there is growing consensus that law schools instil a certain way of thinking but lack preparation for the practice of law in reality and there is an explosion of interest in clinical legal training, why does this educational turn fail to provide a new role of legal anthropology, which focuses on the practice of law, in clinical legal training?