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Anno accademico 2022/2023

Codice attività didattica
Prof.ssa Roberta Aluffi (Titolare dell'insegnamento)
Anthony Chima Diala (Titolare dell'insegnamento)
Corso di studio
Master's Degree Course in Area and global studies for international cooperation
2° anno
Primo semestre
SSD attività didattica
IUS/02 - diritto privato comparato
Tipologia esame

Sommario insegnamento


Obiettivi formativi

Law shapes and is shaped by social, political and cultural institutions and practices. In this
course you will be introduced to key concepts in socio-legal studies and to scholarship in, on
and, particularly, from Africa, that provide insights into the relationship between law and
other social institutions on the continent. Africa is a large and diverse continent. The course
explores shared themes of concern to African intellectuals, including aspects of law and
colonialism, as well as country-specific engagements with law, particularly in postcolonial
Africa. It moves from broad conceptual questions about the nature of African law to
considering the ways in which laws are mobilized and contested by African legal actors and
by ordinary citizens to address contemporary social concerns relating to, amongst others,
land, sexuality, women’s rights, and access to justice.
Throughout the course we will consider questions of universal interest that arise – and are
best addressed – at the intersections of legal, social, political and economic fields, including
why some laws are made (or enforced) and others are not, the institutional barriers to
effective implementation of law, the reasons why citizens turn to the law (or not) to address
their disputes, the distributional effects of law, and the functioning of police, prosecutors,
courts and prisons – as well as the other forms of social regulation that fill the gaps in
between. As such, the course provides participants with an opportunity both to learn about
and from Africa.
Drawing on the description above, the course aims to familiarize students with some of
the following topics:
• Debates on the nature of “African Law”.
• Living customary law and vernacular dispute management processes.
• The relationship between law and colonialism, and its enduring impact on African
legal systems.
• Legal pluralism, legal culture, interlegality and hybridity in post-colonial Africa.
• The rule of law, human rights and access to justice in Africa.
• African debates on transitional justice.
• Law on the books versus law in action and the challenges of law-making and

  • Law on the books versus law in action and the challenges of law-making and implementation.


Risultati dell'apprendimento attesi

At the end of this course, students should be in position to demonstrate:
• Knowledge of key concepts and theories for understanding the relationship
between law and society, and an ability to apply these to the African context.
• An understanding of the complex and dynamic relationship between received
Western law and institutions, religious laws and (other) vernacular laws in Africa,
and of the challenges for societies embedded in multiple and overlapping legal
• Insight into African intellectual contestations about human rights, access to justice,
and the rule of law in Africa.
• The ability to engage in interdisciplinary analysis of African legal issues, drawing on
an understanding of the nexus between law and the broader economic, cultural and
political context.
• A sound knowledge of key debates in African law and society, drawing on
acquaintance with the work of African scholars.




The course will cover the following ground:


  1. Africa, Law and Society
  2. Legal Pluralism and Interlegality
  3. Law and Colonialism in Africa
  4. African Law, Customary Law or Vernacular Law?
  5. Living Customary Law
  6. Vernacular Dispute Management & Traditional Courts
  7. Constituting the post-colonial state in Africa
  8. When is the past not the past? On irresolution and revolution
  9. Human Rights, Rule of Law & Access to Justice
  10. Just Transitions?
  11. Women’s Rights
  12. Human Security
  13. Violence Against Women and Children
  14. LGBTQIA+ Rights
  15. Lawyers and Judges

For more details, see the course outline on Moodle 


Modalità di insegnamento

Structure: The course consists of 36 hours of lectures, seminars and small group activities.
You are expected to play an active part in learning the content and skills that are necessary
to excel in this course. The course starts by providing an overview of key debates in African
Law and Society before moving on to consider a number of selected topics, including land,
health, women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ rights and gender-based violence. Once a week, usually
on a Wednesday, we will take the class entirely on line and enjoy the company of eminent
African scholars working on issues of law and society. Please check the schedule carefully
Readings: The course is reading-intensive and some reading is required in advance of each
class in order to fully participate. The readings will also form the basis of a short response
papers to be submitted before class. While each reading is deserving of close and careful
reading and we hope you will return to and continue to learn from them, in order to cover
the material required for this course you will need to read with purpose, specifically learning
to identify major themes and arguments. All readings are loaded onto the Moodle site for
the course.



Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

Attending Students (online and in class)
Students will be graded on written work and presentation.
Response/Reflection Papers: You are required to submit a short response of around 300
words to one (or more if you choose) of the readings for that day by 9am on the day of
class. Submission is mandatory and if you miss a class you must still submit. Please do not
summarise the article. We are interested in your response to the writings: what do you think
of the author(s)’ arguments, what connections can you make between the work of scholars
you are reading for this course, other scholarship to which you’ve read in your studies, and
your own experience? It is an opportunity to reflect on your responses to the readings, and
to the course more generally.
Long Paper: You may elect one topic, reading, or group of readings on which to write an
analytical response paper of no more than 1200 words (excl references). This should draw
on other relevant scholarship, be properly referenced, and present a well-argued position.
Presentation: You should produce and upload a presentation of 3-5 minutes explaining the
question/issue your long paper addresses and the key arguments you make in that paper.
The final mark, expressed on a 30-point scale, will be composed as follows:
Weekly class activities and response papers (4% x 15 classes) 60%
Analytical Response Paper 30%
Presentation 10%
Non-Attending Students
All non-attending students should enroll for the class on Moodle. Non-attending students
are expected to do all required readings and must submit:
a) An analytical response paper to one or a combination of the readings, of no more
than 1200 words (excl references). This should draw on other relevant scholarship,
be properly referenced and present a well-argued position.
b) A working paper of no more than 3,000 words on a topic of their choice having
relevance to African law and society.
c) A presentation of 3-5 minutes explaining the question/issue your long paper
addresses and the key arguments you make in your working paper.
The final mark, expressed on a 30-point scale, will be composed as follows:
Working Paper (3000 words) 60%
Analytical response paper (1200 words) 30%
Presentation 10%

Testi consigliati e bibliografia

What is Africanness? Contesting Nativism in Race, Culture and Sexualities
Anno pubblicazione:  
Pretoria University Law Press,
Charles Ngwena
chapter 3


All the other texts and documents are listed in the course outline available on Moodle. They will be made available online before the beginning of the course.

Ultimo aggiornamento: 03/11/2022 12:48
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