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A Clash of Legal Norms

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Banishment as a Customary Religious Sanction in Ghana

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This paper explores the reasons for proscribed sanctions and their effects on contemporary Ghana. I contend that the sacred office of the Ghanaian chief, which is legitimated by spiritual and legal norms, plays an ambivalent role in Ghana’s legal and political modernization. Using banishment as a case study, the paper pays attentions to how the continued use of proscribed sanctions, among other chiefly actions, raises an ambivalent challenge to Ghana’s laws, its sovereignty, and its commitment to human rights. I propose actions that may aid the state in overcoming these challenges and successfully integrating modern norms with ancient traditional values.

Affiliations: 1: Religious Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand,


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