(2008) JLP 57: 1-44
Starting with Moore’s ‘semi-autonomous social field’ as an analytical and descriptive tool the paper explores how Foucault’s concept of power relations contributes to an understanding of the dynamic nature of individual interaction with legal pluralism in the social field. The interplay of power and legal pluralism is illustrated through an examination of the use of alternative legal orders as a ‘strategy of struggles’ by members of an adivasi (indigenous tribal) community in India and Bangladesh (the Santal). The Santal are diasporic, often living with other adivasi peoples and non-adivasis. Santal individuals face injustices linked to gender, ethnicity, poverty, political powerlessness, and illiteracy. Relations between individuals are affected by rules and processes of socialisation in a number of co-existing and interconnected normative fields (the legal orders of the family, local community and State). The paper illustrates how individuals navigate through the legal orders of the family, local Santal community and State to access justice, and the factors that limit their opportunity to renegotiate power relations.