'The trial': A parody of the law amid the mockery of men in post-colonial Papua New Guinea

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Abstract

According to students of legal pluralism, the relationship between Western law and local dispute management processes, remedies, and so on is multiple and complex. Legal pluralism studies have not ventured very far outside the arenas of conflict resolution, be they authorized or private. In this article, I argue that legal pluralism has imposed methodological blinders upon significant expressive dimensions of its problem. In a satirical mock-trial that took place in rural Papua New Guinea, legal and indigenous constructions of order met not, as one might expect, instrumentally in the context of negotiating the resolution of a 'trouble case', but creatively combining in play to result in a multi-voiced, comic discourse. The law is shown to have rhetorical value, particularly in colonial and post-colonial settings where it may be deployed or invoked to represent and convey ambivalent attitudes about both justice and local constructions of personhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-89
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Volume10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2004

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