The law tends to emphasise rationality but courtrooms are often sites where emotions are displayed and lawyers appeal to emotions to strengthen their arguments. This panel examines the complex relations between emotions and the law drawing on ethnographies of legal discourse, courts and disputes.
Legal thinking tends to emphasise rationality but courtrooms are often sites where emotions are displayed and lawyers appeal to emotions to strengthen their arguments. This panel examines the complex relations between emotions and the law drawing on ethnographies of legal discourses, courts and disputes. Engaging current scholarship on emotions the panel adopts a cross-cultural perspective on displays and appeals to emotions in legal settings. Emotions are ambivalent. On the one hand, they can pose a challenge to careful legal argumentation but, on the other hand, the law's legitimacy depends on emotional recognition that legal decisions are just. Legal cosmology necessarily involves emotions giving meaning to moral and legal judgments.
Cultural differences are key to the anthropology of emotions and/in law. For example, people from different cultural backgrounds may express their emotions in different ways. This can create misunderstandings and confusion in the courtroom. There are also considerable differences between different legal systems. Whilst in one socio-cultural setting emotions are expected to be kept in check in another it might be expected to express emotions in a certain way.
The ethnography of the multifarious connections between reason and emotions in legal settings provides a new perspective for the anthropology of law and governance. Further, it offers an empirically grounded contribution to wider debates about emotions in the humanities and social sciences.