Skip to main content

Legalities and Materialities

Cloatre, Emilie and Cowan, Dave (2018) Legalities and Materialities. In: Philipopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Andreas, ed. Routledge Handbook for Law and Theory. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-95646-9. (KAR id:62096)

Language: English

Click to download this file (210kB) Preview
[thumbnail of legalitiesandmaterialities.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format


This chapter reflects on what materiality-inflected methodologies can bring to an anthropology of law, and to legal studies more generally. Its starting point is an increasing attention across the social sciences and humanities for objects, and thinking beyond the human. These have often, but not only, emerged from science and technology studies (STS), to which we pay particular attention. However, approaches to materiality have themselves become diversified, and their implications for law can similarly be read in multiple ways. At the same time, legal anthropology has helped to re-characterise the complexity of law as a field of social activity by paying attention to its meanings, for actors within as well as outside its own institutions; to its modes of action in practice, again within its explicitly designated spaces as well as its everyday; to its unexpected forms, patterns and directions; to its multiplicity and uncertainty. Approaches within a broadly defined ‘legal anthropology’ agenda have provided tools to move away from grand and removed theorisation of the law, or an exclusive attention to its own claims, and towards a subtler understanding of law as a relatively fluid, changing and uncertain set of practices. While doing so, legal anthropology has also reminded us of the significance of empirical research to identify and theorise the complex existences of law, a contribution which echoes some of the implications of materiality-oriented theories.

Item Type: Book section
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Emilie Cloatre
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2017 13:16 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 13:04 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Cloatre, Emilie:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.