Synopses & Reviews
The Zapotec observe that "a bad compromise is better than a good fight." Why? This study of the legal system of the Zapotec village of Talea suggests that compromise and, more generally, harmony are strategies used by colonized groups to protect themselves from encroaching powerholders or strategies the colonizers use to defend themselves against organized subordinates.
The book's central thesis is that harmony ideology in Talea today is both a product of nearly 500 years of colonial encounter and a strategy for resisting the state's political and cultural hegemony. The author utilizes ethnographic, comparitive, and historical approaches to reveal how Talean social organization in general and social organization of law in particular relate to control, to relative power, and to autonomy over an extended period of colonization.
"A magnificent book that will embellish Nader's already firm place as the leader in the field of legal anthropology. Her book provides a way of seeing how people have tamed and combated the forces of aggression, colonialism, and misgovernment by pushing themselves toward what she calls a 'harmony ideology.' It will give legal anthropology as well as comparitive studies a much firmer base from which to work." Paul Bohannon, University of Southern California
“Naders scholarly volume, though detailed, is very readable. Not only is this book a major contribution to the anthropology of law by one of its leading proponents but also one that should be considered by scholars interested in other aspects of cultural changes and development.”—Anthropos
Table of Contents
Preface; 1. Introduction; Part I. Social Organisation and Control: 2. The experience of place; 3. Order through social organization: stratifying, leveling, and linking; 4. Grievances and remedy agents: comparisons in social organization; Part II. Court Users: 5. Setting the law into motion; 6. Deciding cases; 7. Court style; 8. Dissecting cases to understand court users; 9. Over the mountain to the district court; Part III. The Substance of Legal Encounters: 10. Rank, intimacy, and control in cross-sex complaints; 11. Violence and harmony in same-sex litigation; 12. Individual and community interest in property cases; 13. Contests about governance; Part IV. Connections: 14. Harmony in comparative perspective; 15. Ethnography and the construction of theory; References; Index.