Law, Culture, and Social Change in Developing Countries

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Spring 2014 Reading Group
Meets: W 5:00pm - 7:00pm in Hauser Hall Room 101
1 classroom credit

The lives of billions of people in developing countries are to a greater or lesser extent governed by some form of indigenous customary law, the unwritten legal rules that are based on the tradtions, practices and cultures of individual ethnic groups, rather than on the acts of national legislatures and courts. Customary law is particiualrly vigorous with respect to land, the family, personal status, and inheritance. While customary law is adapted to the cultural values and living conditions of the groups concerned, it also often embodies institutions and practices, such as insecure land tenure, the subservient status of women, child and forced marriage, and female genital cutting, which national governments and international organizations consider problematic. This reading group wiill explore the nature and role of customary law in developing countries and the various strategies and policies that their governments may follow to adapt and reform customary law to meet the demands of development, modernization, and international human rights.

Subject Areas: Disciplinary Perspectives & Law , International, Comparative & Foreign Law .

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