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The disenchantment of the lore of law: Jacob Grimm's legal anthropology before anthropology
The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law  (IF),  Pub Date : 2020-05-03, DOI: 10.1080/07329113.2020.1755577
Tomáš Ledvinka

Abstract The legacy of Jacob Grimm, one of the Grimm brothers, is not limited to philological, mythological and folklore studies but also includes significant research into law and legal culture, which was seen as archaeological in his time. This resonated in classics of social and legal anthropology but was largely repudiated due to the anti–German sentiments raised around the World Wars. Some scholars have praised Jacob as the founder of legal ethnography and archaeology as well as legal pluralism, while others have criticized him as a nationalist inventor of a single German customary law. This paper argues that while Jacob’s legal research was tightly related to the German politics of self–determination; it is a distinct scholarly work whose many aspects are pertinent even for more recent socio–legal ethnographies. It points out especially the philological origins of his concept of law and the idea of legal poetry as a key factor in the formation of anthropological legal pluralism. Finally, Jacob’s attempt to understand the law in the past is seen as a transitional scholarly moment of the disenchantment of the law, which was closed before in theological and philological forms, that inaugurated the road to contemporary legal anthropology.