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Multicultural Jurisprudence

Comparative Perspectives on the Cultural Defense

Editor(s): Marie-Claire Foblets, Alison Dundes Renteln
Media of Multicultural Jurisprudence
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Published: 16-01-2009
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 392
ISBN: 9781841138961
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Series: Oñati International Series in Law and Society
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £33.99
Online price : £30.59
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Loren Epson

About Multicultural Jurisprudence

As individuals travel across borders, societies have become more and more pluralistic. The result of increased migration is the interaction among cultural communities and inevitably clashes between state law and customary law. These cultural conflicts have given rise to a new multicultural jurisprudence. In this volume scholars grapple with the immense challenges judges are currently experiencing everywhere. To what extent can and should courts accommodate litigants' requests by taking their cultural backgrounds into account?

This collection brings together powerful examples of the cultural defense in many countries in Western Europe, North America, and elsewhere. It shows the ubiquity of this defense, contrary to the mistaken impression that it has been invoked principally in the United States. This book makes the case for undertaking studies of the use of the cultural defense in jurisdictions all over the world where this has not been previously documented.

Many of the chapters concentrate on criminal cases including homicide in the context of honour crimes, provocation based on 'loss of face' or witchcraft killings. Some deal with other areas of law such as asylum jurisprudence, family law and housing policy. They show in concrete cases how cultural claims have arisen and how legal systems wrestle with these arguments. It is clear that judges have had considerable difficulty handling many of the cultural claims.

The authors demonstrate persuasively the need to reconsider the proper use of cultural evidence in legal proceedings. Those interested in the ways in which expertise influences the disposition of cases will find this book compelling.

Table Of Contents

Alison Dundes Renteln and Marie-Claire Foblets

Part I Theoretical Perspectives

1. The Culture Defence in English Common Law: the Potential for Development
Gordon R Woodman

2. Culture, Crime, and Culpability: Perspectives on the Defence of Provocation
Kumaralingam Amirthalingam

3. The Use and Abuse of the Cultural Defense
Alison Dundes Renteln

Part II Overview of Countries

4. The Cultural Defence in Spain
Barbara Truffin and César Arjona

5. Visions of a Multicultural Criminal Law: an Australian Perspective
Simon Bronitt

6. The Paradox of Cultural Differences in Dutch Criminal Law
Mirjam Siesling and Jeroen Ten Voorde

7. The Cultural Defence in Criminal Law: South African Perspectives
Pieter A Carstens

Part III Specific Issues

8. Criminalising Romani Culture through Law
Joke Kusters

9. Honor Killings and the Cultural Defense in Germany
Sylvia Maier

10. A Critique of 'Loss of Face' Arguments in Cultural Defense Cases: a Comparative Study
Cher Weixia Chen

11. The Paradox of the Cultural Defence: Gender and Cultural Othering in Canada
Maneesha Deckha

Part IV Legal Actors

12. Dealing with the Ethnic Other in Criminal Law Practice: a Case Study from the Netherlands
Brenda Carina Oude Breuil

13. Cultural Defence and Societal Dynamics
Erik Claes and Jogchum Vrielink

14. The Anthropologist as Expert Witness: the Case of a Murder in Maine
John L Caughey

Alison Dundes Renteln and Marie-Claire Foblets


“… Multicultural Jurisprudence is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in social and legal plurality and the use of culture in the judicial setting. It is consistently well written and well referenced, with excellent use of judicial precedents. It is interesting and provocative, raising many troubling issues, and highlighting the difficulty the law and legal institutions have had in coping with cultural plurality.” –  Shawn H.E. Harmon, Social & Legal Studies, Volume 20, No.4

“...Foblets and Renteln deserve an accolade for redressing our ignorance regarding to what extent, if at all, cultural imperatives should mitigate punishment in today's legally pluralistic society. But most nobly of all, they endeavor to end the clash between law and culture.” –  Lee P. Ruddin, Law and Politics Book Review, Vol 19, No 10

“The chapters provide a range of important examples in the courtroom
… each author employs an anthropological lens that enables the reader to understand and appreciate the nuances in each country's history and how national identity affects the incorporation in judicial and administrative processes.
” –  Jamie Rowen, Law and Society Review, Volume 44, Issue 2

“This collection … satisfies the pressing demand for further expert discussion of this subject.
Overall, the strength of this volume lies in its multidisciplinarity, its internationally comparative approach, and its well-balanced provision for both theory and practice.
This thought-provoking publication … will definitely be of great value to anyone interested in multiculturalism in general and in legal and philosophical implications in particular.

” –  Marie-Luisa Frick, Volume 13, No.3

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