To make the reading of this text, it is important to consider that the law cannot be understood more as a unique set of rules. The law is also argumentation and procedures. The law focused on argumentation is living, dynamic, right to understand that the legal consists of cultural, social and contextual, elements of where the legal operator must watering to find just solutions cases. The legal process is the task of judges and administrative authorities, who administer justice, and is also an occupation of legislators, academics, parties in the processes and the multitude of legal interpreters that exist in any social community. A key issue in this discussion is that the development of the rule of law and democracy is measured in terms of quality and depth of the deliberation in legal processes. Change in the legal culture abroad is above all that we are now seeing the right from the perspective of the legal process and decisions of the judge, and not from the point of view of the law.
Doing justice is the result of a research project of collective effort that departed from common theoretical core research areas. The entire text can meet particular situations of the legal problems of the studied regions and aims at promoting an original theoretical approach to explain the interlegality, the uses of law and gender in ethnic contexts. This text is built to give input to the problem of law and justice in indigenous regions. Mexico offers a range of legal relationships, from the peaceful and friendly to the ongoing conflict, accompanied by fear, resentment, threats, hostility and outright violence inside and outside the community. In the first one, conflict boils down to the disparity that not indigenous and conservative residents find in the behavior and the roles that the Indians must play according to the old order and the current situation. In the second case, the conflict is consistent with the problems of land, cultural and economic competition, the political domain of a group by another, religious differences and grievances of individuals or groups of diverse nature. Moreover, most importantly, the differences in gender marked before the law.
The studies presented in the book are embedded in the tradition of legal anthropology interested in documenting the relationship between power and legality processual perspective. By it, the right is considered a language to dispute and not a preset code that governs and sanctions the behaviors. The law exists to the extent that is activated by social actors for their own purposes, as indeed are the players who put the law in motion. This means considering the central role of litigants, especially the plaintiffs during disputes and the cultural and social context that structures and answers them. From this perspective, the disputes and their resolution are key referents to describe the strategies of the litigants to reach agreements, and also to reconstruct the normative justifications come into play to assess their behavior, moral sense of duty to be, and to specify the limits of their actions. In the course of the disputes also reveal hierarchies, gender roles and positions that show that the law actually is not neutral and contributes actively to reproduce power differentials. In this sense, the law is also a player of hegemony and dominant cultural sense.
Set out a comparative study, as this-that systematically facilitate progress in understanding what has been a complex and conflicted relationship between state law and customary law is one of the key fields that reveals ethnic tensions, cultural conflict and existing options for resolving disputes. In contrast to other studies in the field of legal anthropology, interested in documenting the structural and regulatory systems of indigenous law, the authors analyze the legal practices and usages of law, and their representations, as constructed in everyday life and thru the social actors, with texts from their social and cultural rights when faced with the need to resolve their disputes or enforce their rights.
A legal institution and its construction, focus of studies, is an established rule of conduct recognized as such by a group or distinguishable social class. This refers to a distinct type or class of relationships and interactions. The relationship of legal institutions and social structure is twofold. Institutions (if such a term can be used to refer to the relationship that society makes of people in social relations) have a double connection to the structure, with a group or class that can be said is an institution, and with those relationships within the structural system to which the rules apply. Indigenous communities are linked to its territory to communal land, and constitute a drive, a small core, a closed society often found in competing and ancestral feud with neighboring communities, which is always considered different. The individual that is part of this community does not feel that he belongs to the community, but to his lineage and lineage land. Not aware of being only a fragment of a larger society ethnic group. Member of a nation, Entelechy that goes beyond the world covering close culture whose heritage is not known.
The text as a whole is answering the following questions: What are the uses of the law in the regions? How do relate the law of the State and indigenous law? In what sense it is possible to speak of an indigenous justification. What are the limits and how do they relate to State Justice? Are these different rights or rights with different cultural senses? Is it possible to reconstruct the logics of indigenous customary law? How does express the conflict and cultural difference in law? The way the law of the State offers alternatives to the demands of indigenous rights and legal language can work? In order to outline or resist the State is it possible to speak of alternative indigenous rights?
A central focus of the investigations has been to determine the role of law in the construction of gender and identities, for what is also submitted the question: In what sense is built and negotiated in law, the gender roles and what are their cultural markings? How affect the indigenous gender customs in the practice ideologies? What alternatives offered access to justice and what strategies developed to confront it?
The results of the research presented in this book include different indigenous regions of central-southern Mexico: The municipality of tzotzil of Zinacantán in Chiapas (Jane Collier). The nahua region of the Sierra of Puebla, specially the municipality of Cuetzalan and its subsidiary boards, and head for the judicial district of Zacapoaxtla (Maria Teresa Sierra and Ivette Vallejo). Papantla, Veracruz, mainly totonaca region (Victoria Chenaut). The Mixtec municipality of Metlatónoc in Guerrero, and some other communities (Maribel Nicasio); The indigenous urban space in Mexico City (Rebecca Igreja).
Each study has the virtue of providing a better understanding of the legal problems of the regions studied, while contributing to the construction of a comparative research that allows progress to the theoretical understanding of the interlegality, the uses of law and gender in inter-ethnic contexts. Thus, the book provides deep insight into the issue of Justice and law in indigenous regions, which is central to the theoretical discussion of legal anthropology. And to understand and discuss the political proposals concerning the recognition of indigenous rights and autonomy.
As part of the global dynamics involving indigenous communities, a number of changes in the economic and political have been generated and are significantly upsetting the livelihoods of communities; such dynamics have also led to the introduction of new legal language to transform the local legal premises. Most indigenous communities, people and the territory it occupies, are currently free municipalities. Despite the apparent failure of the free municipality in these communities, the Revolution held an invariable goal the form of municipal government and denied to them the right to govern according to their traditional patterns. By imposing and sustaining a form of government there, that is not fully accepted, the Revolution meant to the communities to reinterpret their old traditional ways within the new model. Thus, each indigenous community has its particular way of governing; it must respect the laws of municipal, state and federal government. We see in the text that the anthropological research of the law has also shown that this is a historical product and is subject to changes and adjustments, which means to approach its study from a social process and transformation.
Precede a legal structure defined by the State to which the indigenous communities are embedded. Such structure crystallizes a history of domination and exclusion which subjects the indigenous peoples, and to which they had to negotiate and adapt their practices of justice and right. However, there are significant differences in each of the regions studied.
A general comparative analysis shows differences in relation to the extents of indigenous justice and its relationship with the State. While all regions it has managed to impose a legal structure, its impact had been different. The control from institutions and officials is much more hegemonic in the nahua region of Cuetzalan (Sierra North of Puebla) and Coyutla municipality (totonaca Papantla sierra) than in the tzotzil region of Zinacantán (Highlands of Chiapas), where the State has no control of Justice and the municipal management which makes prevail an indigenous jurisdiction of great strength. In an intermediate position, we find the mixes communities of Oaxaca, where the presence of the State is continuously negotiated because there is greater autonomy to municipal management, constitutionally recognized and due to the divisions between headers and municipal agencies.
A central finding of the research is to note the role that the new discourses on rights and new agents in mediation are playing in legal practices, and in the confrontation with the state and in the field of indigenous communities and organizations. This confirms the preeminence of Interlegal processes that are the intertwining of normative references from different legal issuers, the positive law, traditions, international law and transnational.
The six chapters in this book take up the results of research conducted in different regions of study. The book begins with an article by Jane F. Collier, “Change and continuity in legal proceedings in Zinacantan” which includes a long research experience, over more than 30 years in the town of Zinacantan, allowing an insight into the changes and continuities in legal procedures of Zinacantan.
Maria Teresa Sierra, Chapter 2, “Interlegal, justice and rights in the northern Sierra of Puebla”, resumed research prior experience in the nahua communities of Huauchinango, on the other end of the Puebla bocasierra to deepen the study of the interlegality, fundamental key to understanding the dynamics of law in indigenous regions.
“Gender relations, Nahua women and uses of legality in the town of Cuetzalan”, Ivette Vallejo, delves into the study of the structure and practices of indigenous justice in the space of the auxiliary board of Nahua Yohualichan, municipality of Cuetzalan , Puebla, in its relationship with municipal authorities. Force ethnographic documents and forms of indigenous justice and reveals that, despite the contradictions and transformations that have influenced negatively, remains a main area used by Nahua men and women.
In Chapter 4, “Legal Practice and interlegality in the judicial district of Papantla, Veracruz”, Victoria Chenaut addresses the problem of justice and the uses of law and order among the Totonac population in the judicial district of Coyutla. The author aims to document how abstract and general principles of law come to life from the legal practices of social actors located in interlegality situations. This means that actors strategically use the right and appropriate standards and bringing into play different legal categories, filtering and invoke from their own cultural and social matrix in particular contexts.
Elisa Cruz, author of “Rules and processes in San Marcos Móctum: Expressions of Mixe rights,” offers a different perspective of the juridical approach: an approach combining the normative system of the Mixes of San Marcos Móctum, Oaxaca, and a procedural approach to document management and resolution of disputes and the uses of the law. The study reveals how the mixes of San Marcos have used legal requirements imposed by the State to build their communal statutes, draft regulations and define a set of membership rules that serve as benchmarks of what should be in the local area.
In Chapter 6, “Justice and Attorney interlegalityin an indigenous municipality of the mountains of Guerrero”, Maribel Nicasio introduces us in the municipality of Metlatónoc to document the particularities of Justice and the rule of law in a context where violence dominates structural repression of the State, and one of the highest poverty rates in the country. In this county, traditionally inhabited by Mixtec and to a lesser extent, Tlapaneco, the practice of justice is to be a central space to see how the state legal hegemony is continually confronted by normative references that disrupt the sense of judicial decisions, to the need for local authorities to resolve disputes.
In Carrying out Justice, fairness studies contribute to specific experiences and conceptualizations to the debate on human rights and indigenous women’s rights in multicultural contexts. As revealed by this study and anthropological literature, the legality of the state has penetrated and structured indigenous law interlegality generating processes and legal pluralism, and it is impossible to speak of self-contained or separate legal systems. This does not mean, however, that we can reconstruct the legal and cultural logics from which different societies construct their right reinterpret the legality of the state and renew what they consider their custom. It is clear that Mexico has a legal pluralism, and in each ethno-linguistic region is implementing its own form of social norms act of specialists and to involve the kinship and religion to resolve conflicts. The splendid efforts of the work outlined contributes much to clarify the doubts we have about ways to practice law in our multiethnic and multicultural country. However, more research is needed in the legal field to understand the new realities of contemporary Mexico interlegality.
Alejandro González Villaruel, Museo Nacional de Antropología, INAH.
Translation by Carmen Martí Cotarelo.