Interlegality at a Teniente Político's Office: A Legal Anthropological Perspective

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This socio-legal article will show that the daily practice of legal pluralism in Ecuador should not be seen as a dichotomy between two different legal systems, but rather as what de Sousa Santos calls a situation of "interlegality". As such, this article challenges the idea that customary law is solely used by indigenous people as a "counter-hegemonic strategy" to secure their autonomy against encroachment of the state, at least at a local level. Such a view does not explain the heterogeneity observed in actual legal practice in the Ecuadorian Highlands. Based on a case study at a local teniente politico's office, this article underscores that the actual practice of legal pluralism in the Ecuadorian Highlands is not one of clearly separated legal systems and corresponding authorities (i.e., national law and customary law), but rather that of "different legal spaces superimposed, interpenetrated, and mixed."
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-32
JournalInter-American and European Human Rights Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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