Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Dr. Anna-Lena Wolf

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Reconsidering the Canon of Law

Reconsidering the Canon of Law has two dimensions. First, the research project ethnographically investigates how canon law is interpreted, negotiated, and refined in central institutions of the Roman Curia. Second, the project reconsiders underlying moral principles of law more generally.

The research project is located at the intersection of legal anthropology and the anthropology of Christianity.

Legal anthropology has long been focused either on alternative legal orders and how they are related to state law, or on studying how marginalized groups mobilize state law or international law (especially human rights) from below.

Church law in general and canon law more particularly have somewhat dropped out of the gaze of legal anthropology due to the unquestioned assumption that state law is based on Christian premises whereas alternative legal orders, such as Hindu, Sharia or customary law, must necessarily be non-Christian.

The present research project challenges this taken-for-granted premise and reconsiders the canon of law through the ethnographic investigation of canon law.




Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg


Prof. Dr. Olaf Zenker