Can the work of lawyers mend the postcolonial state?

On Monday, Community Law Centre hosted a ‘brown bag seminar’ discussing, how the work of lawyers mends the postcolonial state. The seminar zeroed down to theoretical and methodological reflections based on legal ethnography in Zambia.

The speakers at the seminar were Jeremy Gould is a professor of Development & International Cooperation at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland and Lukas Muntingh is co-founder and Project Coordinator of CSPRI at the Community Law Centre.

At the Seminar, Prof Gould discussed the role of the Zambian legal profession in the campaign to prevent Frederick Chiluba from pursuing a third term as President of Zambia and the corruption case that was opened against him after his term had ended.

He concluded that this in itself was a watershed as never before had the legal profession played any significant role in standing up to protect constitutionalism. Prof Gould also criticised what transpired subsequently and discussed the emergence of what he calls 'New Patrimonialism" where liberal principles and legal instruments are used the protect a small elite.

Prof Gould is an anthropologist by training and disposition, his primary fieldwork sites have been in Zambia where he has worked since 1983. Prominent publications include The New Conditionality. The politics of poverty reduction strategies (London: Zed 2005) and Left behind. Rural Zambia in the Third Republic (Lusaka: Lembani 2009). He is currently completing a book on law, politics and postcolonial state formation, also based on Zambian ethnography.