Accepted Paper:

Land claims as moral claims in the Mande mountain region of Mali  

Author:

Henrike Florusbosch (University of Michigan)

Paper short abstract:

This paper takes up the shifting of legal responsibility into moral spheres in the case of a protracted land conflict in Mali, in which a legal vacuum leads local actors to seek recourse in moral rather than legal orders.

Paper long abstract:

This paper takes up the shifting of legal responsibility into moral spheres in the case of a protracted land conflict in Mali. This conflict, which first became acute in early 2008 and continues up until the present, has so far escalated into violence and large-scale im-prisonment as well as an increasing number of new conflicts that keep cropping up in its wake. On a theoretical level, the case is of interest because these subsidiary conflicts, which I documented in the summer of 2011, all play out in the domain of ethics, as if to underscore the lack of satisfactory judicial resolution of the original dispute. In my analysis, I delineate the actions and aspirations of the various local and supra-local actors involved, including the state, and show why resolution of the original conflict—involving the sale of a parcel of land by a group of men whose rights of ownership to it are dis-puted—remains elusive. My argument is that the conflicting interventions from state-sponsored institutions on various levels (from direct intervention by the army to an ap-parent upholding of the judicial power of newly "decentralized" local communities) have effectively created a legal vacuum, which leads local actors to seek recourse in moral rather than legal orders. As such, the case I present lends itself well for comparison with other instances of legal uncertainties and its sometimes productive, yet oftentimes also troubling consequences.

Panel W077
Legal pluralism and the uncertainties of responsibility (EN)