Publication title information
Anthony Diala (2021). 'Legal pluralism and the future of personal family laws in Africa'. 35(1) International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family
A notable aspect of Africa’s struggle with its colonial legacies is the co-existence of indigenous laws that emerged in agrarian settings with state laws that emerged in industrial settings. Given the dissonance in their origins, clashes frequently occur between traditionalists and change agents, especially over the property and succession rights of women, girls, and younger male children. Spurred by the judicial handling of these clashes, scholars categorise African customary laws into ‘official’ and ‘living’ versions. However, this categorisation does not account properly for the influence of globalisation on the normative behaviour of Africans.
Based on multi-country field research, this article introduces adaptive legal pluralism as the framework for managing the co-existence of indigenous laws and state laws in sub-Saharan Africa. By explaining the influence of globalisation on the behaviour of people subject to indigenous laws, the article draws attention to the imitative character of normative interaction in this region. It presents adaptive legal pluralism as not only a crystal bowl for charting the future of indigenous family laws, but also the theoretical pathway to integrated state and indigenous laws.
Anthony C Diala
Anthony Chima Diala is Associate Professor at the Department of Private Law at UWC. An advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, he has published on customary law, human rights, and constitutionalism. https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2582-0139