February 25, 2016

Provost on Centaur Jurisprudence: Cultural Sensitivity of Courts and Other Legal Institutions

René Provost, McGill University Faculty of Law, is publishing Centaur Jurisprudence: Culture Before the Law in Culture in the Domains of Law (René Provost, ed., Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
Many claims to justice ask law to be responsive to the lived experiences of those to and through whom it is applied. ‘Culture’ is one label attached to collective forms of this lived experience. But what does it mean for courts and other legal institutions to be culturally sensitive? What are the institutional implications and consequences of such an aspiration? To what extent is legal discourse capable of accommodating multiple cultural narratives without losing its claim to normative specificity? And how are we to understand meetings of law and culture in the context of formal legal processes, such as when a criminal defendant invokes the acceptability of domestic violence within his ethnic community, when oral traditions are presented as the basis for an aboriginal land claim, or when the custom of ‘bush marriage’ is evoked as relevant to the prosecution of the war crime of rape? The encounter of law and culture corresponds to a polycentric relation, but these specific questions draw our attention to law and legal institutions as one site of encounter warranting further investigation, to map out the place of culture in the domains of law.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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