Feminist Participatory Research on Legal Consciousness

  • Susan F. Hirsch


Many studies in legal anthropology examine gender relations, yet virtually absent from the literature is an engagement with the debates over feminist method that have shaped the study of gender in other disciplines (see, e.g., Harding 1987; Reinharz 1992) and in other anthropological subfields (see, e.g., Bell, Caplan, and Karim 1993; Jackson 1986; Strathern 1987). In writing about feminist method as part of a broader consideration of methods in legal anthropology, my concern is neither to rehearse debates over feminist methodology and epistemology outside the subdiscipline, nor to offer a blueprint for deploying feminist methods in legal anthropology, nor even to advocate that scholars studying gender and law should take a feminist approach to their research. Rather, by describing a research project that incorporates feminist methods—namely, a workshop on legal consciousness conducted with a feminist activist group in Tanzania—this chapter illustrates how a consideration of feminist methods might help legal anthropologists to negotiate, or at least to reflect on, several thorny issues in contemporary research: the methodological difficulties of studying legal consciousness; the problematic relationship between the researcher and research subject in ethnographic fieldwork; and the blurred boundaries between scholarship and activism, especially in sociolegal studies.


Feminist Research Legal Literacy Feminist Method Legal Consciousness Animation Technique 
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© June Starr and Mark Goodale 2002

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  • Susan F. Hirsch

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