Tuesday, November 07, 2006


CALL FOR PAPERS: European Conference on African Studies (ECAS) 2007

The European Conference on African Studies (ECAS) 2007 will be held from 11-14 July 2007 in Leiden, the Netherlands. Full information on the conference is available at http://www.aegis-eu.org. We would like to draw your attention on following panel which is now open for paper proposals.

Panel 36: Between customs and state law: The dynamics of local law in sub-Saharan Africa

In all African countries, the official legal system is based on European state law. Since its introduction under colonial rule, however, it only deals with a minor part of the actually arising conflicts. Most legal problems are solved or regulated on a local level, outside the state system and its institutions.

Over the past years, development agencies and international organisations have increasingly paid attention to "traditional authorities" and "customary dispute resolution" as alternatives to state judiciary. Their recognition within the official legal system is expected to facilitate "access to justice" and to enhance political decentralisation processes.

But beside these large-scale initiatives, most Africans have already developed their own ways to reconcile customary legal conceptions with state law. On the one hand, tradition is reinvented; on the other hand, the role of state law is readapted to local realities. State administrators or policemen intervene in "traditional" disputes; "traditional" land transactions are settled through written contracts. There are lots of examples of local legal innovations in Africa.

The purpose of this panel is to collect different field studies on such dynamics of local law. To what extend are these legal practices viable? Can and should they be integrated into state law? Are they precursors of some new forms of law which are neither "customary" nor "modern"? Or are they mainly the manifestation of a dilemma due to the erosion of pre-colonial traditions and the lack of legitimacy of state law?

Abstracts should not be longer than 500 words and can be submitted via http://ecas2007.aegis-eu.org/Commence.aspx. The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 31 December 2006. The proposals will be reviewed in January 2007 and those who have submitted abstracts will be notified as to whether their paper has been accepted or not in February 2007.

For general questions concerning paper proposals, please contact mailto:conference@aegis-eu.org. For questions concerning an already proposed paper, you can contact the organizers of the panel at mailto:aegis2007@acaj.org.

The panel session will last one and a half hours and can accommodate 3-5 papers. If the panel attracts more than five interesting and relevant paper proposals, the organization of additional sessions may be considered.

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