Abstract. Starting from the idea that “every human society has a certain form of juridical norms and practices”, we think that the relations between Law and the State are only a little part of the complex juridical phenomenology documented by social studies among the different human groups, from the very “simple” to the more “complex” ones, so that the first point that could be made is to admit the existence of a “plurality of juridical organizations and institutions”. It is possible to affirm the previous statement on the base of a great number of intensive field studies conducted by anthropologists, using also a comparative method. We present here some very interesting investigations about the forms of “traditional justice” practiced by a number of indigenous peoples of Mexico. It twill be clear, from these studies, that the “double competence” (in both Law and Anthropology) is the best condition for the sound comprehension of the nature of juridical ideas and actions in general. After this ethnographic presentation, full of theoretical suggestions, we turn to a discussion on two of the fundamental theoretical and methodological concepts of modern social and cultural anthropology: the concept of “Culture” and the concept of “Identity”. We then discuss a very important socio-cultural process defined as “Multiculturalism”, which corresponds to an equilibrated and reciprocal joint-living between groups of individuals coming from different social and cultural traditions. As instances well documented of this socio-political orientation, we present the cases of some specific debates in the United States, and the politico-juridical orientation of countries such as Canada and Australia, where the idea of a “double citizenship” is widespread. In the mentioned countries, the systems of official norms and the practices of the jurisprudence present a very intensive “flexibility” and a plurality of differentiated norms. Finally, we briefly discuss a specific orientation of modern anthropology (named Applied Anthropology) according to which the anthropological knowledge – based on long term field research – could exert a relevant influence on government’s and institutions’ actions and on the social and political interventions of the two.
SUMMARY: 1. Regulation, law and the state, legal pluralism. Introduction to legal anthropology. – 2. The plurality of legal systems and the need for comparison. –3. The fundamental characteristics of anthropological research. Some examples of “traditional” Third World societies legal systems – 4. – A fundamental notion of social and cultural anthropology: the concept of “Culture”. – 5. Importance of the concept of “Identity”. – 6. “Multiculturalism” as an example of a model of “coexistence” between human groups of different social and cultural backgrounds. Some examples from the United States, Canada and Australia. – 7. Some brief concluding remarks on Applied Anthropology
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