The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Alternative Justice and Legal Pluralism in Asia and Africa

Joint Research Coordinator ISHIDA Shin-ichiro

Reserch Theme List


The movement to expand the scope of extrajudicial alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as part of judicial reform is spreading around the world. To legal anthropologists, who have produced many case studies of the use of extrajudicial forms of dispute resolution, what is new about “alternative” remains unclear. However, when previously unrecognized positive meanings and roles are ascribed to ADR and these extrajudicial proceedings become officially authorized, unprecedented changes in legal process and procedure grounded in a legal pluralism that dates from the colonial period are likely to occur. This project brings together young anthropologists and legal scholars to discuss cases from Asia and Africa in an effort to determine how the introduction of alternative approaches or the reshaping of extrajudicial dispute resolution mechanisms affects existing forms of legal pluralism and to explore the potential of “alternative justice” in both its theoretical and practical dimensions.

Research Results

The results of this joint research project were publishedas a book Alternative Justice: A Critical Approach to Law and Society, Suita:Osaka University Press in 2011.
 This book critically examines a variety of alternative approaches in contrast to existing judicial institutions, focusing in particular on the following two types of issues: first, issues suggested by previous research on legal pluralism and, second, issues arising when holistic methods are used to examine justice in a broad sense as well as justice in a narrow, legal sense. A summary of the research results including these points was presented verbally at the meeting to report results on October 5, 2010.  The results were also reported in “Alternative Justice: A New Paradigm for Law and Society” by Shin-ichiro Ishida in Minpaku Tsushin, No. 129.  Previously published results of this joint research project include the following:
Konfurikuto no jinbungaku (Conflict Studies in the Humanities) Vol. 2 (March, 2010) published research papers related to the international workshop “Understanding Alternative Justice in Transitional Societies”. Contributors include Shin-ichiro Ishida, Arinori Kawamura, Rumi Umino, Stephan Parmentier, Atsufumi Kato, Hideo Kubo, Sayaka Takano, Jun Baba, and Claudia Ituarte-Lima.  Ishida, Kawamura, Kubo, Sonoand Baba also contributed articles related to the project to Gurouburusekainohobunka: hogaku to jinruigaku no apurouchi (Legal Culture in a Globalized World: Legal and Anthropological Approaches), edited by Takeshi Tsunoda and Shin-ichiro Ishida, published by Fukumura Shuppan in August, 2009.  Ishida and Takano contributed research papers to the special issue “Multiple Legal Institutions and Cultures: From the Perspective of Legal Anthropology and Jurisprudence”Nomos, No. 24 (Institute of Legal Studies, Kansai University).  Other notable publications include Shin-ichiro Ishida, “Legal pluralism and human rights in a Kenyan court,” in M. O. Hinz ed., In search of justice and peace: Traditional and informal justice systems in Africa, 2010 and Hideo Kubo “Legal Policy and Social Research,” in Ho no Ryutsuu (Circulation of Laws), 2009.