Anne Griffiths is Professor of Anthropology of Law at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on anthropology of law, comparative and family law, African law, gender, culture and rights. In pursuit of these interests Anne has carried out fieldwork in Botswana, southern Africa in the 1980s and more recently, in Scotland in the 1990s on 'The Child's Voice in Legal Proceedings.'
Anne's work has explored the study of law through an anthropological perspective based on ethnography grounded in detailed field studies. This perspective highlights people’s understandings, experiences and use of law in everyday life. Her analysis focuses on social persons perspectives on law, providing a counterpoint to textual and doctrinal analyses of law promoted by formal models and challenges conventional legal theory by extending the scope of what constitutes a legitimate focus for legal inquiry. By drawing together the threads of ‘public’ and ‘private’ dimensions of social life Anne Griffiths' work has not only contributed to feminist scholarship on law but as well to broader debates in the social sciences concerning the relationship between power, law, and discourse that govern people’s lives. Her aim is to stress the importance law has in interdisciplinary shaping of transnational issues, such as human rights, whether relating to women and gender, or in relation to children. Thus it urges the centrality of law in its own rights, and not simply as an aspect of political or economic life, while exploring law as a dimension of political, economic, and cultural organisation and as well the legitimation of power through political and economic processes.
Her research has emphasised the specific, concrete, lived-experiences that inform people’s lives. This standpoint critically examines questions about law’s legitimacy and authority from the perspective of social actors who are often marginalized in mainstream legal discourse, stressing their views of law, the circumstances under which they do or do not have access to legal forums, and the conditions under which individuals find themselves silenced or unable to negotiate with others in daily life.
Anne Griffiths' major publications include In the Shadow of Marriage: Gender and Justice in an African Community published in 1997; Family Law (Scotland) with Lilian Edwards in 1997, revised second edition in 2006; Mobile People, Mobile Law: Expanding Legal Relations in a Contracting World (co-edited with Franz and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann) in 2005; 'Using Ethnography as a Tool in Legal Research: An Anthropological Perspective', in Theory and Method in Socio-Legal Research in 2005; and 'Localising the Global: Rights of Participation in the Scottish Children’s Hearings System and Hearing Children in Children’s Hearings', with Randy Kandel in 2000 and 2005.
She has held visiting appointments at various institutions including distinguished visiting professor at the faculty of Law, University of Toronto, visiting fellow ar the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale, Germany, International Institute for the Sociology of Law, Oñati – Gipuzkoa, Spain, The University of Texas at Austin, School of Law, the Southern and Eastern African Regional Centre for Women’s Law at the University of Zimbabwe and the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. Anne Griffiths has held major research grants from the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (USA), Annenberg Foundation (USA) and the ESRC, among other bodies, and has undertaken consultancy work for various organisations including the British Council and NORAD (the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation).
Anne Griffiths is a past President of the Commission on Folk Law and Legal Pluralism, a branch of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. Information about conferences held by the Commission is available here.
She welcomes enquiries from prospective doctoral applicants in her fields of interest, and also welcomes enquiries from prospective postdoctoral candidates.
Family Law (Honours) (Course Organiser)
Family Law (Ordinary) (Course Organiser)
Law, Culture and Rights in a Transnational World (Honours) (Course Organiser)
Himani Bhakuni 'Socio-ethico-legal dilemmas of 'informed consent' as applicable to human subject research in India.'
Anne Griffiths, L. Edwards Family Law (2nd ed) (Thomson/W Green, 2006)
Lilian Edwards, Anne Griffiths Family Law (W. Green, 1997)
Abstract: Family Law is an addition to the Greens Concise Scots Law series, giving practical and authoritative analysis on this key area of Scots law. Taking full account of all important recent legislation, such as the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, special attention is paid to the increasing use of negotiation and mediation in divorce.
Anne Griffiths In the Shadow of Marriage: Gender and Justice in an African Community (University of Chicago Press, 1997)
Abstract: This is a comparison between the traditional customary legal system and the colonial common law of courts and magistrates in Botswana. It sets out to show how the structure of both legal institutions is based on power and gender relations which heavily favour males. Griffiths' analysis is based on careful observation of how people actually experience the law as well as the more standard tools of statutes and cases familiar to Western legal scholars. She explains how women's access to law is determined by social relations over which they have little control. In this powerful feminist critique of law and anthropology, Griffiths shows how law and custom are inseparable for Kwena women. Both colonial common law and customary law pose comparable and constant challenges to Kwena women's attempts to improve their positions in society.
Anne Griffiths, Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann Spatializing Law: An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society (Ashgate, 2009)
Abstract: "Spatializing Law: An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society" focuses on law and its location, exploring how spaces are constructed on the terrestrial and marine surface of the earth with legal means in a rich variety of socio-political, legal and ecological settings. The contributors explore the interrelations between social spaces and physical space, highlighting the ways in which legal rules may localise people's rights and obligations in social space that may be mapped onto physical space. This volume also demonstrates how different notions of space and place become resources that can be mobilised in social, political and economic interaction, paying specific attention to the contradictory ways in which space may be configured and involved in social interaction under conditions of plural legal orders. "Spatialising Law" makes a significant contribution to the anthropological geography of law and will be useful to scholars across a broad array of disciplines.
Anne Griffiths, Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann The Power of Law in a Transnational World: Anthropological Enquiries (Berghahn Books, 2009)
Abstract: How is law mobilized and who has the power and authority to construct its meaning? This important volume examines this question as well as how law is constituted and reconfigured through social processes that frame both its continuity and transformation over time. The volume highlights how power is deployed under conditions of legal pluralism, exploring its effects on livelihoods and on social institutions, including the state. Such an approach not only demonstrates how the state, through its various development programs and organizational structures, attempts to control territory and people, but also relates the mechanisms of state control to other legal modes of control and regulation at both local and supranational levels.
Anne Griffiths, Franz von Benda-Beckmann and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann Mobile People, Mobile Law: Expanding Legal Relations in a Contracting World (Ashgate, 2005)
Abstract: Demonstrating how users of law, who often operate in multi-sited situations, are forced to deal with increasingly complex legal circumstances, this volume focuses on political and social processes through which people appropriate, use and create legal forms in mulitiple legal settings.
Jude Murison, Anne Griffiths, K. King Remaking Law in Africa: Transnationalism, Persons and Rights (Edinburgh University, 2004)
Anne Griffiths, Douglas Brodie, Hector MacQueen, Christina Ashton, David Brand, James Chalmers, Vic Craig, Stuart Cross, Valerie Finch, Alasdair Gordon Fundamentals of Scots Law (Thomson/W Green, 2003)
Abstract: Fundamentals of Scots Law is a clear and comprehensive account of a broad range of the legal areas studied by students studying Scots law, or law as part of another course in Scotland. Included are chapter summaries, further reading lists and sample examination questions and answers.
Anne Griffiths, Eric Clive, Jane Scoular, Claire Mcdiarmid, Elaine Sutherland, Margaret L. Ross, Kenneth McK. Norrie, Clare Connelly and Alison Cleland Family Dynamics: Contemporary Issues in Family Law (LexisNexis UK, 2001)
Abstract: Written by a team of Scotland's leading academics, this is an invigorating edited collection dealing with the key issues in family law from a socio-legal and theoretical perspective. It broadens the study of family law beyond case law and legislation by engaging the reader in the current debates surrounding family law. It will be of interest to students, academics and family lawyers both in Scotland and abroad.
Anne Griffiths, R. Kuppe and M. Wiber Group Rights: Strategies for Assisting the Fourth World, Law and Anthropology (Internationales Jahrbuch fur Rechtsanthropologie, No. 5) (VWGO-Verlag, 1990)
Anne Griffiths 'Law, Space and Place: Reframing Comparative Law and Legal Anthropology' (2009) Law & Social Inquiry 34(2) 495-507
Anne Griffiths, R.F. Kandel 'Children's Confidentiality at the Crossroad: Challenges for the Scottish Children's Hearings System' (2006) Journal of Social Welfare & Family Law Vol 28 (2)137-152
Anne Griffiths, R.F. Kandel 'Reconfiguring Personhood: From Ungovernability to Parent Adolescent Autonomy Conflict Actions' (2003) Syracuse Law Review Vol 53(3) 995- 1065
Anne Griffiths 'Women's Worlds, Siblings in Dispute over Inheritance: A View from Botswana' (2002) Africa Today 49(1) 61-82
Abstract: The relationship between women, language, and law in the context of two inheritance disputes that took place in the village of Molepolole, in Botswana, southern Africa, features siblings jockeying for control over their deceased parents' property under customary law. Two cases have been selected because they illustrate (a) how claims are processed within a given framework where the terms of reference are set and both parties proceed on the basis of a common set of understandings, and (b) how claims may be processed where one party challenges the given framework by shifting the terms of reference, thereby creating possibilities for change and new forms of discourse. In both cases, the women find themselves operating within a gendered environment where men generally have better access to resources than women. Irrespective of their position within social networks, women are still faced with negotiating their status and rights to property in terms of deeply embedded conceptions of family and the women's role therein. It is that which frames the ways in which their claims to property are acknowledged and received.
Anne Griffiths 'Remaking law: Gender ethnography and legal discourse (Review article of 'Pronouncing and Perservering: Gender and the Discourses of Disputing in an African Islamic Court', by S. Hirsh, University of Chicago Press (1997)' (2002) Law & Society Review Vol 35(2) pp 101-114
Anne Griffiths, R. Kandel 'Hearing Children in Children's Hearings' (2000) Child and Family Law Quarterly Vol3 pp283-300
Anne Griffiths 'Gender power and difference: Reconfiguring law from Bakwena women's perspectives' (2000) Political and Legal Anthropology Review Vol 23(2) pp 89-106
Anne Griffiths 'Reconfiguring Law: an Ethnographic Perspective from Botswana' (1998) Law & Social Inquiry Vol 23(5) pp587-620
Anne Griffiths 'Mediation, Gender, Justice in Botswana' (1998) Mediation Quarterly Vol 15 Part 4 pp335-42
Anne Griffiths 'Gender, Power and Legal Pluralism in Africa, Special Issue on Urban Normative Fields in Contemporary Africa' (1998) Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law Vol 42 pp123-138
Anne Griffiths 'Gendered Narratives: Botswana Women's Perspectives on Marriage, Law and Property' (1998) Kroeber Anthropological Society Vol 83 pp56-68
Anne Griffiths 'Legal Pluralism in Africa: The Role of Gender and Women's Access to Law' (1996) Political and Legal Anthropology Review Vol 19 pp93-108
Anne Griffiths, Marie-Claire Foblets, Carol La Prairie, Gordon Woodman 'Special issue (No.46) on Popular justice' (1996) Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law Vol 36 214pp
Anne Griffiths 'Between Paradigms: Differing Perspectives on Justice in Molepolole, Botswana' (1996) Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law Vol 36 pp195-214
Anne Griffiths 'The Women's Question in Kwena Family Disputes (in Special Issue: Socio-Legal Position of Women in Changing Societies)' (1991) Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 30-311-35
Anne Griffiths 'Women, Status and Power: Negotiation in Family Disputes in Botswana' (1989) Cornell International Law Journal 22 575-622
Anne Griffiths 'The Problem of Informal Justice: Family Dispute Processing Among the Bakwena: A Case Study' (1986) International Journal of the Sociology of Law 14 359-376
Anne Griffiths 'Support for Women with Dependent Children in Botswana' (1984) Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 23 1-15
Anne Griffiths 'Legal Duality: Conflict or Concord in Botswana?' (1983) Journal of African Law 27 150-161
Abstract: This paper is concerned with the relationship that exists between Customary and Common law in Botswana. Does it promote conflict or concord? This will be explored with reference to the general relationship between the two systems and in the particular context of marriage, divorce and division of property. One may argue for the conflict approach if one views the systems as ppositional or one may argue that there is concord by acquiescence, given the subordinate position occupied by Customary law within the national legal system of Botswana. The aim of this paper is to do neither, but rather, to show that "duality" with its implications of separateness is inappropriate, that the two systems are linked and have a symbiotic relationship, one which involves a process of mutual adaptation. The aim of this paper is to show that any conflict or concord that exists should not be defined in terms of systems viewed as independent isolated units or in terms of labels such as "Common" or "Customary" law but rather in terms of values which relate to mode of life and attach themselves to certain kinds of property. Within the national legal system of Botswana Customary and Common law co-exist. Customary law is defined as being "in relation to any particular tribe or tribal community the customary law of that tribe or tribal community so far s it is not incompatible with the provisions of any written law or contrary tomorality, humanity or natural justice".
Anne Griffiths, Randy Kandel 'The Governance of Children: From Welfare Justice to Proactive Regulation in the Scottish Children's Hearings System' in Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann, Julia Eckert (eds) Rules of Law and Laws of Ruling: On the Governance of Law (Ashgate, 2009) 171-189
Anne Griffiths, Randy Kandel 'Half Told Truths and Partial Silence: Managing Communication in Scottish Children's Hearings' in Anne Griffiths, Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann (eds) The Power of Law in a Transnational World: Anthropological Enquiries (Berghahn Books, 2009) 176-195
Anne Griffiths, Randy F Kandel 'The myth of the transparent table: reconstructing space and legal intervention in Scottish children's hearings' in Anne Griffiths, Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann (eds) Spatializing Law: An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society (Ashgate, 2009) 157-176
Anne Griffiths, Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann 'Space and legal pluralism: an introduction' in Anne Griffiths, Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann (eds) Spatializing Law: An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society (Ashgate, 2009) 1-30
Anne Griffiths 'Networking resources: A gendered perspective on Kwena women's property rights' in A. Bottomley and H. Lim (eds) Feminist Perspectives on Land Law (Routledge Cavendish, 2007) 217-238
Abstract: A version of this chapter entitled 'Making Gender Visible in law: Kwena women's access to power and resources' appeared in Human rights, plural legalities and gendered realities: Paths are made by walking. (2006) A. Hellum, J. Stewart, S. Sardar Ali and A. Tsanga (eds) pp 139-163. Harare, Zimbabwe: Weaver Press and Southern and Eastern African Regional Centre for Women's law (SEARCWL).
Anne Griffiths 'Customary Law in a Transnational World: Legal Pluralism Revisited' in R.A. Benton (eds) Conversing with the Ancestors: Concepts and Institutions in Polynesian Customary Law (Te Matahauariki Institute, University of Waikato, 2006) pp 9-35
Anne Griffiths 'Making Gender Visible in law: Kwena women's access to power and resources' in A. Hellum, J. Stewart, S. Sardar Ali and A. Tsanga (eds) Human rights, plural legalities and gendered realities: Paths are made by walking (Weaver Press and Southern and Eastern African Regional Centre for Womenâ€™s law (SEARCWL), 2006) pp 139-163
Anne Griffiths, R.F. Kandel 'Localising the Global: Rights of Participation in the Scottish Children's Hearings System' in Anne Griffiths, Franz von Benda-Beckmann and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann (eds) Mobile People, Mobile Law: Expanding Legal Relations in a Contracting World (Ashgate, 2005) pp. 482-514
Anne Griffiths, Franz von Brenda-Beckmann and Keebet von Brenda-Beckmann 'Introduction' in Anne Griffiths, Franz von Benda-Beckmann and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann (eds) Mobile People, Mobile Law: Expanding Legal Relations in a Contracting World (Ashgate, 2005) pp. 1-35
Anne Griffiths 'Using Ethnography as a Tool in Legal Research: An Anthropological Perspective' in Reza Banakar and Max Travers (eds) Theory and Method in Socio-Legal Research (Hart Publishing, 2005) pp. 113-131
Anne Griffiths, R.F. Kandel 'Empowering Children?: Legal Understandings and Experiences of Rights in the Scottish Children's Hearings System' in Simon Halliday and Patrick Schmidt (eds) Human Rights Brought Home: Socio-Legal Perspectives on Human Rights in the National Context (Hart Publishing, 2004) pp. 231-255
Anne Griffiths 'Introduction' in Jude Murison, Anne Griffiths, K. King (eds) Remaking Law in Africa: Transnationalism, Persons and Rights (Edinburgh University, 2004) pp. 1-23
Anne Griffiths 'Family Law' in Anne Griffiths, Douglas Brodie, Hector MacQueen, Christina Ashton, David Brand, James Chalmers, Vic Craig, Stuart Cross, Valerie Finch, Alasdair Gordon (eds) Fundamentals of Scots Law (Thomson/W Green, 2003) pp. 453-518
Anne Griffiths 'Botswana' in (eds) Legal Systems of the World: A Political, Social, and Cultural Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara/Oxford, 2002) pp. 180-187
Anne Griffiths 'Legal Pluralism' in Reza Banakar and Max Travers (eds) An Introduction to Law and Social Theory (Hart Publishing, 2002) pp. 289-310
Anne Griffiths 'Doing Ethnography, Living Law, Life Histories and Narratives from Botswana' in J. Starr and M. Goodale (eds) Practicing Ethnography in Law: New Dialogues, Enduring Methods (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, 2002) pp. 160-181
Anne Griffiths 'Reconceiving families and the ties that bind: A more inclusive approach?' in Anne Griffiths, Eric Clive, Jane Scoular, Claire Mcdiarmid, Elaine Sutherland, Margaret L. Ross, Kenneth McK. Norrie, Clare Connelly and Alison Cleland (eds) Family Dynamics: Contemporary Issues in Family Law (LexisNexis UK, 2001) pp. 71-103
Anne Griffiths 'Working towards consensus-children's hearings in Scotland' in Pam Foley, Jeremy Roche and Stan Tucker (eds) Children in Society: Contemporary Theory, Policy and Practice (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001) pp 121-132
Anne Griffiths 'Gendering Culture: Towards a Plural Perspective on Kwena Women's Rights' in Jane K. Cowan, Marie-Benedicte Dembour and Richard A. Wilson (eds) Culture and Rights: Anthropological Perspectives (Cambridge University Press, 2001) pp. 102-126
Anne Griffiths, R. Kandel 'Between need and desire: Children's voices in legal proceedings concerning them' in Virginia Caputo (eds) Proceedings of the Symposium on Child Research Into the 21st Century: A Symposium in Honour of Sharon Stephens (Joint Chair in Women's Studies at Carleton University and University of Ottawa, 2000) pp. 45-58
Anne Griffiths, R.F. Kandel 'Legislating for the child's voice: Perspectives from comparative ethnography of proceedings involving children' in Mavis Maclean (eds) Making Law for Families (Hart Publishing, 2000) pp 161-183
Anne Griffiths 'Re-ordering Kin: The Redistribution of Resources on Family Breakdown' in Simon J. Clark et al. (eds) Hume Papers on Public Policy, Vol. 7 No. 2 (Divorce, Property and Pensions) (Edinburgh University Press, 1999) pp. 26-46
Anne Griffiths 'The Future of Family Law: Empowerment: Rhetoric or Reality' in Hector MacQueen Scots Law into the 21st Century: Essays in Honour of W. A. Wilson (W. Green / Sweet & Maxwell, 1996) pp.193-203
Anne Griffiths, A. Fink 'Policy and procreation: The regulation of reproductive behaviour in the Third World' in Sheila McLean (eds) Law Reform and Human Reproduction (Dartmouth Publishing, 1992) pp. 289-313
Anne Griffiths 'The Legal Heritage of Colonialism: Family Law in a Former British Protectorate' in (eds) Law and Anthropology: International Yearbook for Legal Anthropology (Martinus Nijhoff, 1989) pp. 75-107
Anne Griffiths 'Support Among the Bakwena' in F. von. Benda-Beckmann, K. von Benda-Beckmann, E. Casino, F. Hirtz, G. Woodman, and H. Zacher (eds) Between Kinship and the State: Social Security and Law in Developing Countries (Mouton de Gruyter / Foris Publications USA, 1988) pp. 289-316
Anne Griffiths 'Mediation, Conflict and Social Inequality: Family Dispute Processing among the Bakwena' in Robert Dingwall and John Eekelaar (eds) Divorce, Mediation and the Legal Process (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1988) pp. 129-143
Anne Griffiths 'Child Support in Botswana' in A. Armstrong (eds) Women and Law in Southern Africa (Zimbabwe Publishing House, Harare, Zimbabwe, 1984) pp. 164-178
Anne Griffiths Report on Violence and Safety for Gender and Scottish Society: Polities, Policies and Participation (Unit for the Study of Government in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, 1996)
Notes and Reviews
Anne Griffiths 'Comment on 'Reconciliation and Revenge in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Rethinking Legal Pluralism and Human Rights', by R.A. Wilson in Current Anthropology' (2000) Current Anthropology Vol 41(1) p 89
Anne Griffiths 'Review of 'A Little God: The Twilight of Patriarchy in a Southern African Chiefdom' by Diana Wylie' (1993) Identities - Journal for Politics, Gender, and Culture Vol 2 112-116
Anne Griffiths, E. Sutherland 'Matrimonial Homes (Family Protection) Scotland Bill' (1981) Scots Law Times 165-169
Anne Griffiths 'Women's Access to Law in Botswana: Anthropological Contributions to Legal Studies', Working Papers in Women's Law, No. 48 (Institute of Women's Law, University of Oslo, Norway, 1996)
Anne Griffiths 'Negotiating Pregnancy: Women's Strategies Concerning Marriage and Compensation among the Kwena in Botswana', Occasional Paper Series, No. 27 (Centre of African Studies, Edinburgh University, 1990)
Papers and Presentations
Anne Griffiths 'The Governance of Children: From Welfare Justice to Proactive Regulation in the Scottish Children's Hearings System' presented at Law and Governance, ) Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale, Germany, 2006
Anne Griffiths 'Accounting for Gender in law: Kwena Women's Access to networks and Property Rights' presented at XVI ISA World Congress of Sociology, Durban, South Africa, 2006
Anne Griffiths 'Knowledge Power and Discourse: Ethnography in a Transnational World' presented at International Workshop on Polarisation and Convergence in Socio-Legal Studies, International Institute for Sociology of Law, Onati, Spain, 2005
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