Advertisement

On ‘African’ Legal Theory: A Possibility, an Impossibility or Mere Conundrum?

  • Chikosa Mozesi SilungweEmail author
Chapter
  • 745 Downloads
Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 29)

Abstract

If the descriptor ‘African legal theory, jurisprudence or philosophy’ suggests a purist conception of ‘African’ legal theory, jurisprudence or philosophy then the intellectual enterprise so undertaken is futile and impossible. It is more plausible to envision ‘African’ legal theory, jurisprudence or philosophy under Homi Bhabha’s idea of ‘culture’s in-between’; which denies a purist conception of ‘culture’ and emphasizes the diversity of ‘influence’. This interpretation is pertinent since in the consideration of ‘Africa’ as a space and the received-ness of ‘law’ and ‘the legal’ in that space, the understanding of any phenomenon as ‘African’ ought to be a nuanced engagement. I am not denying the ability of the constituency re-identified as ‘African’ to know or to think. I am suggesting that scholarship must, first, acknowledge that the violence of modernity on ‘knowledge’ or ‘thought’ has been far-reaching and deep-rooted. Second, the de-Europeanization or de-Americanization among the authorship of (supposedly) ‘African’ legal theory, jurisprudence or philosophy does not necessarily imply that the underlying conceptions of the resultant scholarship are not rooted in modernity. An approach to what may be called ‘African’ legal theory, jurisprudence or philosophy based on the idea of ‘culture’s in-between’ acknowledges two things: First, the convoluted socio-political environment of ‘law’ or the ‘legal’ in Africa (or in the African) which permeates into its theory, jurisprudence or philosophy. Second, the diversity of influence that underlies the ‘culture’s in-between’ thesis presents a window for the consideration of what is being termed ‘African’ in theory, jurisprudence or philosophy in confronting global phenomena.

Keywords

Human Dignity Legal Theory Global Phenomenon Dialectical Thinking Internal Citation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Ahiauzu N (2006) Ubuntu and the obligation to obey the law. Camb Law Rev 37:17Google Scholar
  2. Bauman Z (2009) Memories of class: the prehistory and after life of class. Taylor & Francis Abingdon, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  3. Benda–Beckmann Fv (1984) Law out of context: a comment on the creation of tradition law discussion. J Afr Law 28Google Scholar
  4. Berger P, Luckmann T (1971) The social construction of reality: a treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Penguin, HarmondsworthGoogle Scholar
  5. Bhabha H (1984) Of mimicry and man: the ambivalence of colonial discourse. October 28:125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bhabha H (1995) Interview with W.J.T. Mitchell. Artforum 33(7):80Google Scholar
  7. Bhabha H (1996) Culture’s in-between. In: Hall S, Du Gay P (eds) Questions of cultural identity, Sage, London pp. 53–60Google Scholar
  8. Bless H (2004) Social cognition: how individuals construct reality. Psychology Press, HoveGoogle Scholar
  9. Bourdieu P (1990) In other words: essays towards a reflexive sociology. Country Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  10. Burr V (2003) Social constructionism. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Byrne C (2011) Hunting the vulnerable: witchcraft and the law in Malawi. Available at www.consultancyafrica.com Accessed on 11 Feb 2013
  12. Carmen R (1996) Autonomous development: humanizing the landscape: an excursion into radical thinking and practice. Zed Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Chanock M (1985) Law, custom and social order. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  14. Comeliau C (2002) The impasse of modernity: debating the future of the global market economy. Zed Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Elias TO (1962) British colonial law: a comparative study of the interaction between English and local laws in British dependencies. Stevens & Sons, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Elias TO (1971) Nigerian land law. Sweet & Maxwell, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Fitzpatrick P (1984) Traditionalism and tradition law. J Afr Law 28(1/2):20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fitzpatrick P (2001) Modernism and grounds of law. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  19. Foucault M (1991) Discipline and punish: the birth of a prison (trans: Sheridan A). Penguin, HamondsworthGoogle Scholar
  20. Ibik JO (1971) Restatement of African law, vol 4, Malawi II, the law of land, succession, movable property, agreements and civil wrongs. Sweet & Maxwell, LondonGoogle Scholar
  21. Kamchedzera G, Banda CU (2009) Dignified rural living, the right to development, multiparty politics and legislation in Malawi. S A J Hum Right 25:73Google Scholar
  22. Mamdani M (1996) Citizen and subject: contemporary Africa and the legacy of late colonialism. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  23. Mokgoro JY (1998) Ubuntu and the law in South Africa. Available at http://web.archive.org/web/20040928041520/www.puk.ac.za/law/per/documents/98v1mokg.doc. Accessed on 11 Feb 2013
  24. Mudimbe VY (2004) African identity and globalization. Available at http://muse.jhu.edu. Accessed on 11 Feb 2013
  25. Nkhata MJ (2010) Rethinking governance and constitutionalism in Africa: the relevance and viability of social trust-based governance and constitutionalism in Malawi. Unpublished LLD thesis, University of PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  26. Okoth–Ogendo HWO (1989) Some issues of theory in the study of tenure relations in African agriculture. Afr J Int Afr Inst 59(1):6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Paliwala A (2003) Irresolutions of modernity, law, nation and empire: a reading of Fitzpatrick’s modernism and the grounds of law in conjunction with Hardt and Negri’s empire. Law Soc Just Glob Dev J 1. Available at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/lgd/2003_1/paliwala/. Accessed on 11 Feb 2013
  28. Peters PE (2009) Challenges in land tenure and land reform in Africa: anthropological contributions. World Dev 37(8):1317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Quarmyne M (2011) Witchcraft: a human rights conflict between customary/traditional laws and the legal protection of women in: contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa. William Mary J Wom Law 17:475Google Scholar
  30. Rabinow P (ed) (1984) The Foucault reader. Pantheon Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. Ranger T (1983) The invention of tradition in colonial Africa. In: Hobsbawm E, Ranger T (eds) The invention of tradition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 211Google Scholar
  32. Read J (1963) Criminal law in the Africa of today and tomorrow. J Afr Law 7:5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Roberts S (1984) Some notes on the “African Customary Law”. J Afr Law 28(1/2)Google Scholar
  34. Santos BS (2007) Beyond abyssal thinking: from global lines to ecologies knowledge. XXX Review 1:45Google Scholar
  35. Seidman A, Seidman RB (1984) The political economy of the customary law in the former British territories of Africa’ law. J Afr Law 28(1/2):44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Snyder F (1981) Colonialism and legal form: the creation of “customary” law in Senegal. In: Sumner C (ed) Crime, justice and underdevelopment. Heinemann, London, p 90Google Scholar
  37. Snyder F (1984) Customary law and the economy. J Afr Law 28(1/2):34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Woodman G, Obilade A (1995) African law and legal theory. Darthmouth Publishing Co Ltd, EnglandGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Mizumali FoundationLilongweMalawi

Personalised recommendations