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1 Expanding the Circle: Comparative Legal Studies in Transition

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Chapter Summary

The plurality of legal systems, including morally infused law, coupled with the law-practice gap, requires scholars explicitly and critically to examine assumptions about the significance of positive law. In her discussion of the relationship between comparative law and socio-legal studies, Annelise Riles has noted that comparative law and socio-legal studies now share a range of methodologies and topics of inquiry. In studies of legal change and legal pluralism in particular, and aided by the methodologies of socio-legal scholarship, comparative legal studies has started to move away from its focus on state law and institutions to adopt more broadly framed approaches to its inquiries. The legacy of colonialism throughout south-east Asia has created national systems comprising a complex of domestic, foreign, local, colonial and neocolonial legal regimes each of which have evolved, intertwined and are now used as resources in power struggles within these countries.

Keywords: comparative law; comparative legal studies; legal pluralism; legal systems; socio-legal studies; south-east Asia



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