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Professor Anne Griffiths

Emeritus Professor of Anthropology of Law

Anne Grifiths is Professor of Anthropology of Law at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh. Her research research focuses on anthropology of law, comparative and family law, African law, gender, culture and rights. It explores the study of law through an anthropological perspective based on ethnographically grounded in-depth field studies. This perspective highlights people’s understandings, experiences and use of law in everyday life in order to focus on their perspectives on law. It has examined the gendered dimensions of women’s lives over a thirty year period, and has also explored children, young people, and families experiences and perceptions of legal proceedings in Scotland and the USA, in the context of children in need of supervision or care.

Her approach provides 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 my scholarship has not only contributed to feminist scholarship on law but also to broader debates in the social sciences concerning the relationship between power, law, and discourse. It highlights the importance of law in an interdisciplinary context that has an impact on transnational issues, such as human rights. It contributes to debates on globalisation and access to justice, that seek to reappraise the relationship between international, regional, national and local arenas, and the effects of plural legal orders both within and across these domains.

Her major publications include In the Shadow of Marriage: Gender and Justice in an African Community published in 1997; Mobile People, Mobile Law: Expanding Legal Relations in a Contracting World (2005), Spatializing Law: An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society (2009) and The Power of Law in a Transnational World: Anthropological Enquiries, (all three co-edited with Franz and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann); From Transnational Relations to Transnational Law: Northern European Laws at the Crossroads (2011, co-edited with A. Hellum and S.S. Ali); Family Law (Scotland) (4th edition 2015, co- authored with J. Fotheringham and F. McCarthy); Subjectivity, Citizenship and Belonging in Law: Identities and Intersections(2017) co-edited with s. Mustassari and A, M. Petaja-Leinonen.

Anne has held visiting appointments at various institutions including distinguished visiting professor at the faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Senior Research Fellow at the International Research Centre on Work and the Human Lifecycle in Global History (IKG), Humboldt University, Berlin, Visiting Fellow at 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. She has also 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) and the Danish Institute for Human rights. She has also been past President of the Commission on Folk Law and Legal Pluralism, a branch of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences and continues to serve on the Executive Body of the Commission.