logo Commission on Legal Pluralism

About us & our Objectives

The Commission on Folk Law and Legal Pluralism -as it was originally called- was established in 1978 by the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), and affiliated with the International Association of Legal Science (IALS), on the initiative of professor G. van den Steenhoven, of the Institute of Folk Law, Nijmegen University, the Netherlands.

By September 2017 more than 350 lawyers, anthropologists and other social scientists, representing all regions of the world and concerned with legal pluralism in both theory and practice, were participants in the activities of the Commission. The growth of the Commission reflects a growing awareness of the contemporary existence of legal plurality, not only in countries with indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, but also in the industrialised societies as such.

The Commission on Legal Pluralism furthers knowledge and understanding of legal pluralism, with a focus upon theoretical and practical problems resulting from the interaction of different types of law, such as state law, international and transnational law, religious law, and customary law. It provides a meeting ground for the concerns of social and legal sciences in the study of law in society and the resulting power relations, and in the resolution of social problems.

Among its main activities are the organization of international symposia; the initiation and encouragement of Regional Working Groups in different parts of the world; the organization and delivery of courses and summer schools on legal pluralism; and the publication of the Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law (JLP- thrice every year)

The Commission's first scientific symposium was held in Bellagio, Italy, in 1981 on the theme "State Institutions and their Use of Folk Law". The second, on "The Actual and Legal Position of Ethnic and Cultural Minorities", took place in Vancouver, in 1983. Two symposia were held in 1986: in Tutzing, Bavaria, Germany, on "Formal and Informal Social Security", and in Sydney, on "Folk Law and Indigenous Rights - A Comparative Perspective". Since 1986, a long series of symposia were held in Zagreb (Yugoslavia, 1988), in Ottawa (Canada, 1990), in Amsterdam (Netherlands, 1991), in Wellington (New Zealand, 1992), Mexico City (Mexico, 1993), Accra (Ghana, 1995), Moscow (Russia, 1997), Williamsburg (U.S.A. 1998), Arica (Chile, 2000), Chiang Mai (Thailand, 2002), Fredericton (Canada, 2004), Jakarta (Indonesia, 2006), Zurich (Switzerland, 2009), Cape Town (South Africa 2011), Manchester (UK, 2013). The most recent congress took place in Mumbai, India in 2015.

Membership is open to anyone with a serious and substantial scholarly or practical commitment to or involvement in the field of legal pluralism. Those interested in joining are invited to register as a member at Groupspaces at http://groupspaces.com/CLP/join/ or contact the Executive Secretary Dr. Giselle Corradi: Giselle.Corradi@Ugent.be



18th IUAES World Congres, July 16-20, 2018

The 18th World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) has the following general subject: The past, present and future of anthropological knowledge. It will be hosted by the Federal University of Santa Catarina, in Florianópolis, the capital city of the Brazilian southern state of Santa Catarina, with the support of the Brazilian Association of Anthropology (ABA). This will be the first world congress of anthropology to be held in South America since a first meeting in London in 1934.

Panel proposals can be submitted until 30 October 2017. A call for papers to be included in accepted panels will be open from 1 December 2017.

For more information, check: http://www.iuaes2018.org/site/capa

LSA Annual Meeting 2018, June 7-10, 2018

The Law and Society Association (LSA) and the Canadian Law and Society Association jointly organize a meeting in Toronto: “Law at the crossroads: le droit a la croisée des chemins”. Date: June 7-10, 2018. Venue: Sheraton Centre, Toronto, Canada.

For paper and session proposals, see: http://www.lawandsociety.org/Toronto2018/toronto2018.html

In Memoriam John Griffiths (1940-2017)

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of John Griffiths. John developed his interest in sociology of law in the early 1970s and he started teaching this subject in 1973 at New York University. He moved to the University of Groningen in 1976, were he was appointed Professor in 1977. Until his retirement in 2015 he lived and worked in Groningen. He was one of the founding fathers of the Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law and will be remembered for his contribution in early debates about the content and scope of the concept of legal pluralism. John will be missed by his many former-colleagues, graduate students and friends.

Conference: 'Anticipating Law: The prognostics of fear and hope', 19-21 September 2017

Professor Julia Eckert, Miia Halme-Tuomisaari, David Loher and Tobias Eule are organising a conference on “Anticipating Law: The Prognostics of Fear and Hope”, 19-21 September 2017, in Bern, Switzerland. Here is the Call for Papers: 

With calling for papers that engage with the theme of “Anticipating law” we mean to call into view both anticipations of law, that is the hopes and fears people put into law, and anticipatory laws, that is the attempt to legally regulate the future. Both anticipations of law and anticipatory laws, we hold, are shaped by fear and hope as different forms of anticipation.

The call for papers is open. Abstracts should be submitted by 1 March 2017 and full papers are expected by 1 September 2017. For submission of abstracts and queries contact Julia Eckert, julia.eckert@anthro.unibe.ch David Loher david.loher@anthro.unibe.ch.

For more information, see attachment.

MARE People & the Sea Conference, 5-7 July 2017

On 5-7th of July 2017 the 9th MARE People & the Sea Conference will take place in Amsterdam. This year’s theme is Dealing with Maritime Mobilities. The conference will explore the nature of maritime mobilities and the ways climate and environmental change, economic development and maritime activities are affecting their direction and volume.

Deadline for panel, paper proposals and other conference formats: January 31st, 2017 (GMT). For detailed information about the programme and the different themes see the call for papers

International Meeting on Law and Society, Mexico City, 20-23 June 2017

The Law and Society Association and the Research Committee on the Sociology of Law are together organising an international meeting on law and society in Mexico City, June 20-23, 2017. The theme of the meeting is 'Walls, Borders, and Bridges: Law and Society in an Inter-Connected World'. 

Walls and bridges:  exclusion and inclusion.  Everybody recognizes these two contradictory themes; they have a big role today in national politics, and national law; in international politics, and international law.  A famous old statement had it that all politics is local; but today, all politics is, in some sense, global.  If country A wants to close its borders, and close back in on itself, it is because it is reacting to turmoil outside its boundaries.  Today, no wall can ever be high enough to shut out the forces that are shaping life in the 21st century, for better or for worse. 

We think our field can help us understand that world, what makes it tick, where it has been, and where it is going.  Our theme focuses on walls, borders, and bridges.  But of course, we welcome all studies of law and society; empirical studies, no matter how small, no matter how local, can be tiles that fit into a larger mosaic; and many of these studies will be relevant to our theme, even when this relevance is a bit hard to see.

Deadline for submission is October 18, 2016. For more information, visit the LSA webpage