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Legal anthropology, Interdisciplinary scholarship, Sociology of law, Henry Maine, Edmund Leach


Law and Society | Legal History | Legal Profession


This article considers how lawyers and nonlawyers discuss the contribution of interdisciplinary scholarship to the law as a means of rethinking the relationship between these differences. The article first examines the arguments of the nineteenth-century lawyer Henry Maine and of the twentieth-century anthropologist Edmund Leach on the subject, and notes the difference between Maine's emphasis on "movement" from one theoretical discovery to another and Leach's emphasis on creating relationships between disciplines by exploiting a "space in between" the two. Then, turning to contemporary scholarship in legal anthropology, "Law and Society," and the sociology of law, the article critiques the rigid opposition between disciplines at the heart of much of this scholarship and argues that the task of relating law and anthropology as disciplines, or law and society as social forms, has now lost its rhetorical force. The article concludes that the current contribution of interdisciplinary scholarship to legal studies lies in the tension it discloses between reflexive and normative modes of engagement with legal problems.


This article predates the author's affiliation with Cornell Law School.

Publication Citation

Published in: University of Illinois Law Review, vol. 1994, no. 3 (1994).