Law and Justice in a Multicultural Society: The Case of Mozambique. Edited by Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Maria Paula Meneses. Dakar, CODESRIA, 2006, 268 p., ISBN 9782869781917Number of visits: 814
This book presents the main results of a research project on the systems of justice in Mozambique, undertaken under the auspices of the country’s Supreme Court, in academic partnership with the Center for African Studies at Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique and the Centre for Social Studies at the School of Economics, Coimbra University, Portugal. It is dedicated to the memory of the internationally renowned Mozambican economist and Professor of Development Studies, José Guilherme Negrão. Although he died prematurely, Negrão collaborated in this project, and authored the final chapter dealing with the vexed question of land.
Until the onset of Portuguese colonisation towards the end of the nineteenth century, the peoples of Mozambique did not live under a single political entity. Rather, they existed as independent entities with various forms of political and social organisation. The twentieth century saw a consolidation of colonial rule, and important changes in the organisation of power. After independence, new Eurocentric political-legal cultures were added to the existing mix of legal orders. The distinctions between the colonial law and indigenous customary law became increasingly blurred, such that Mozambique now constitutes a heterogeneous state composed of a mosaic of legal hybrids, incorporating local/indigenous customary practices and religious law, as well as state civil law.
Departing from a broad understanding of law in Mozambique, this work analyses the complex network of judicial systems by interrogating the roles of the entities intervening in the system in colonial and postcolonial contexts. The main objective is to promote an empirically sound and dynamic understanding of the relationships between the multiple judicial entities present in the country within the context of cultural transformation in Africa. Overall, the book is intended as a contribution to current debates on the formation of the state in Mozambique from the nineteenth century.
The authors further considers the alternative mechanisms of conflict resolution taking place in the complexity of different legal rationalities: the remains of the Portuguese legal codes, socialist policies, customary law, religious systems and Western constitutionalism.
Boaventura de Sousa Santos is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Social Studies at the School of Economics, Coimbra University, Portugal. He is also a Distinguished Scholar the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.
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