This text seeks to situate socio-legal studies in a global context. Law and society scholarship in the United States and elsewhere typically assumes one legal system and one society and explores the relationship between them. Such a narrow endeavor perpetuates a Western international relations model that too often conflates law, culture and the nation-state. A more global socio-legal perspective engages with multiple laws and societies within and across national borders and recognizes diverse socio-legal systems based on very different historical and cultural traditions, interacting on multiple local, national and global levels. This more global perspective also reveals an array of transnational issues including regional conflicts, genocide, mass immigration, environmental degradation, and climate change that have consistently defied resolution via conventional international system of governance. The approach to global legal pluralism outlined here seeks to provide a framework for envisioning new global governance regimes that move beyond state-based solutions to deal with trenchant transnational challenges.
Eve Darian-Smith is Professor in Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She holds degrees in law (Melbourne) and sociocultural anthropology (Harvard, Chicago). Her research engages with issues of legal pluralism and explores the changing role of law and legal institutions in the context of globalization. Her first book, Bridging Divides: The Channel Tunnel and English Legal Identity in the New Europe, won the Law and Society Association Herbert Jacob Book Prize. Subsequent books include Laws of the Postcolonial; New Capitalists: Law, Politics and Identity Surrounding Casino Gaming on Native American Land; and most recently Religion, Race, Rights: Landmarks in the History of Anglo-American Law. She is on various editorial boards and is a former associate editor of American Ethnologist and Law and Society Review.
1. Introduction: socio-legal scholarship in the twenty-first century; 2. Interconnected themes and challenges; 3. Producing legal knowledge; 4. Re-imagining legal geographies; 5. Securing peoples; 6. Re-racializing the world; 7. Conclusion: the enduring relevance of law?