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Title: Law as adjunct to custom? : Abkhaz custom and law in today's state-building and 'modernisation' (studied through dispute resolution)
Author: Costello, Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 5813
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2015
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The setting for research is Abkhazia a small country south of the Caucasus Mountains and bordering Europe and the Near East. The Abkhaz hold onto custom – apswara – to make of state law an adjunct to custom as the state strives to strengthen its powers to ‘modernise’ along capitalist lines. This institution of a parallel-cum-interwoven and oppositional existence of practices and the laws questions the relationship of the two in a novel way. The bases of apswara are its concepts of communality and fairness. Profound transformations have followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the breakaway from and subsequent war with Georgia, none of which have brought the bright prospects that were hoped-for with independence. The element of hope in post-Soviet nostalgia provides pointers to what the Abkhaz seek to enact for their future, to decide the course of change that entertains the possibility of a non-capitalist modernisation route and a customary state. Apswara is founded on the direct participatory democracy of non-state regulation. It draws members of all ethnicities into the generation of nationalist self-awareness that transcends ethnicity and religions, and forms around sacred shrines and decisions taken by popular assemblies. It has topical significance for other societies where custom and law co-habit through contestation, and questions some widely accepted theories about the relationship of the two, as well as problematising anthropological concepts of ‘legal pluralism’ and post-Sovietics. The study suggests new topics for research.
Supervisor: Bowman, Glenn Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GN Anthropology ; JF Political institutions (General) ; K Law