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Legal Dissonance: The Interaction of Criminal Law and Customary Law in Papua New Guinea

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Legal Dissonance

The Interaction of Criminal Law and Customary Law in Papua New Guinea

Shaun Larcom

188 pages, 11 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-648-3 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (July 2015)

eISBN 978-1-78238-649-0 eBook

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“This is a valuable, original contribution to the issue of the development of state policy on criminal law in a society in which there is a strong unofficial customary law for the remedying of wrongs.”  ·  Gordon R. Woodman, University of Birmingham


Papua New Guinea’s two most powerful legal orders — customary law and state law —undermine one another in criminal matters. This phenomenon, called legal dissonance, partly explains the low level of personal security found in many parts of the country. This book demonstrates that a lack of coordination in the punishing of wrong behavior is both problematic for legal orders themselves and for those who are subject to such legal phenomena Legal dissonance can lead to behavior being simultaneously promoted by one legal order and punished by the other, leading to injustice, and, perhaps more importantly, undermining the ability of both legal orders to deter wrongdoing.

Shaun Larcom is Lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and a departmental fellow at the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge.  He is also a research associate at the Von Hügel Institute at St Edmund's College Cambridge. He has published a number of book chapters and journal articles, including in the Law and Society Review, Journal of Legal Pluralism, the Law and Development Review, and the Review of Law and Economics.

Subject: Anthropology (General)
Area: Asia-Pacific


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