Toward Comparative Jurisprudence: Differing Approaches to Culture in Law and Society Scholarship – By Alison Dundes Renteln

Date01 December 2016
Published date01 December 2016
Book Reviews
Jinee Lokaneeta, Editor
Toward Comparative Jurisprudence: Differing Approaches
to Culture in Law and Society Scholarship
Law and the Culture of Israel. By Menachem Mautner. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2011. 280 pp. $71 hardback.
Indigenous People, Crime, and Punishment. By Thalia Anthony.
Abingdon: Routledge, 2013. 280 pp. $145 hardback.
Colonial Discourse and Gender in U.S. Criminal Courts: Cultural
Defenses and Prosecutions. By Caroline Braunmuhl. London:
Routledge, 2012. 182 pp. $140 hardback; $54.95 paperback.
Reviewed by Alison Dundes Renteln, Professor of Political Science,
Anthropology, Law, and Public Policy, University of Southern
In the twenty-first century, governments wrestle with the question
of how to make sense of law in a multicultural world. As they figure
out proper interpretations of cultural conflicts, these matters often
emerge in the courtroom. Meanwhile researchers in comparative
jurisprudence, criminology, and postcolonial studies explore the
degree to which justice systems succeed in accommodating claims of
minority groups and indigenous peoples. Here, I consider this bur-
geoning scholarship on culture and jurisprudence. The works I dis-
cuss illustrate how some analysts investigate clashes between groups
and the state in their interpretation of cultural conflicts.
In Law and the Culture of Israel, Menachem Mautner, calls for a
reconsideration of the multicultural state in the context of Israel.
This erudite, interdisciplinary work draws on cultural studies, legal
history, and political theory to interpret the evolving nature of mul-
ticulturalism in Israel. He suggests that multiculturalism has unique
features because of the complex sets of divisions there. Debates
among legal elites reflect philosophical differences between secular
and religious Jewish communities over the national identity and the
fact that the political system has excluded Arabs, for the most part.
Israel has experienced difficulty in part because of having mod-
eled its judicial system after the United States, i.e., the
“Anglicization and liberalizing of the law” (pp. 38–41). It is also one
Law & Society Review, Volume 50, Number 4 (2016)
C2016 Law and Society Association. All rights reserved.

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