Anthropology and Early Law

Anthropology and Early Law

Anthropology and Early Law

Anthropology and Early Law

Excerpt

During the nineteenth century a field of study was developed in England which has maintained a powerful presence in both anthropology and the law. This is historical jurisprudence, which traces current practices and institutions of the law back to their antecedents in bygone eras.

The students of this field at the end of the nineteenth century in England include, in the first instance, Frederic W. Maitland, Paul Vinogradoff, and Frederick Pollock, and certain of their colleagues on the European continent, such as Rudolf Huebner. Their intellectual forebear was Henry Maine, who gave their field of research its direction and method. However, Maitland, Vinogradoff, and Pollock followed Maine not blindly, but selectively and critically, and this was true of their attitude among themselves. Selections from their writings and Huebner's, together with those of Frederic Seebohm and Maxime Kovalevsky, their contemporaries of similar bent, have been combined in this book. These writers cannot properly be called a school, although they were united by their subject matter and their way of approaching it. They were divided by their more general aims and by their mental set—particularly in their critical ability. Maitland and Vinogradoff are notable for the high degree of their critical faculty, Seebohm and Kovalevsky less so. They enriched the fields of anthropology and law, while at the same time they were creatures of their era. This is not a bad thing, however, for many of their problems were valid ones even though interest in some of them is lessened today, particularly in regard to the historical unity of European culture and its institutions. This unity provided the frame for their studies, and they were able to affirm it . . .

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