Law has often been seen as a relatively autonomous domain, one in which a professional elite sharply control the impact of broader social relations and cultural concepts. By contrast this study asserts that the analysis of legal systems, like the analysis of social systems generally, requires an understanding of the concepts and relationships encountered in everyday social life. Using as its substantive base the Islamic law courts of Morocco, the study explores the cultural basis of judicial discretion. From the proposition that in Arabic culture relationships are subject to considerable negotiation the idea is developed that the shaping of facts in a court of law, the use of local experts, and the organization of the judicial structure all contribute to the reliance on local concepts and personnel to inform the range of judicial discretion. By drawing comparisons with the exercise of judicial discretion in America the study demonstrates that cultural concepts deeply inform the evaluation of issues and the shapes of a judge's decision. The Anthropology of Justice is not only the first full-scale study of the actual operations of the actual operations of a modern Islamic law court anywhere in the Arab world but a demonstration of the theoretical basis on which a cultural analysis of the law may be founded.
Table of Contents
Foreword Alfred Harris
1. Law and culture: the appeal to analogy
2. Determining the indeterminable
3. Reason, intent, and the logic of consequence
4. Judicial discretion, state power, and the
concept of justice