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‘Does Anthropology Matter to Law?’

Reflections, Inflections, Deflections

John Comaroff

Does anthropology matter to law? As phrased, this provocation, worthy of address though it certainly is, may ultimately be unanswerable. The reason? Because, like all questions of this sort, it harbours others within it. Precisely which ‘anthropology’? ‘Law’ as what? As everyday practice, as theorised praxis, as pedagogy, as politics by other means? What, moreover, counts as mattering? And from where, in particular, is the provocation being posed? All these questions, patently, make a difference.

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Reflections on the Rise of Legal Theology

Law and Religion in the Twenty-First Century

John L. Comaroff

Religion has always been intimately connected to law. Conversely, modern secular law, born of the separation of lex naturae from lex dei, has always been deeply theological. However, with transformations in the construction of the nation-state and changes in the sociopolitical scaffolding of the global order, the mutual infusion of law and religion appears to be extending both in scope and in substance—not-withstanding the ever more strident assertion of secularism by some nation-states. Counter-intuitively, the law itself appears to be ever more suffused with the sacral, while, across the planet, the sacral is reconstructing constitutional jurisprudence, administrative law, and much more besides. How do we account for this, for the rise of expansive cultures of theo-legality? Where is it leading? And with what implications?