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Law, Culture and Society in Asia

The course provides an introduction to law and its relationship with society and culture in Asia. The primary aim is to better understand the social and cultural contexts in which law operates.

In law, society, and culture studies this is commonly described as the gap between law in the books (doctrinal law of abstract legalprinciples) and law in action as it plays out among and between places, people, institutions, and histories. Studying the formal doctrinal law alone does not tell the full story about how and under what conditions law is produced, imagined, or made meaningful.

The course will critically examine past and present legal traditions in Asia and legal pluralism in the region. It will consider the concept of law, rule of law, and legal consciousness through case studies of Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, China, and Singapore. Canvassing the complex religious, ethnic, and state-based legal system, the course will explore the intricate relationship between societal development, culture and norms, practices, and the functions of law and legal institutions.

  • Course structure

    Teaching format

    The teaching consists of lectures and seminars. The seminars are compulsory.


    The course is examined by an oral examination, minor written assignments and a take-home exam.

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.
  • Contact