Friday, March 31, 2017

Heuschert-Laage on Mongolian legal history

We recently mentioned the new journal, Buddhism, Law & Society. Here is a legal history article from its inaugural issue: Dorothea Heuschert-Laage, University of Bern, "Negotiating Modalities of Succession: The interplay between different legal spheres in eighteenth-century Mongolia," Buddhism, Law & Society 1 (2015-16): 165-94. Here's the abstract:
For 18th-century Mongols living under Qing rule, the imperial state was not the only source of law. Among the rules acknowledged to have binding character were Buddhist legal traditions, customary legal practices as well as rights and duties emanating from dependencies and prerogatives. Yet, the existence of these different legal practices and codes raises many questions about the specific way these different realms of law were interwoven, how Mongols used them and how they could be acting in different spheres of law at the same time. On the basis of archival material, this paper discusses how in the 18th century people switched between different regulatory orders, but also demonstrates that since legal disputes often—maybe even regularly—occurred in more than one legal realm at the same time, it is not always possible to determine where the one sphere began and the other ended. To address complexity of this legal environment, this paper draws on theoretical approaches from legal anthropology, especially research on legal pluralism. I begin with some general remarks on the legal situation in Qing-dynasty Mongolia and the relationship between the law of the Qing state, Buddhist law and local legal conditions. Then, I address two legal cases from the late 18th century that will illustrate how individual litigants and courts chose between different fields of legal reasoning. I argue that the wide spectrum of legal actors within this complex legal environment both enabled and compelled people to switch between different spheres of law.

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