Susan Drummond

Although I teach comparative law, family law, and civil law at Osgoode Hall Law School, my main area of specialization is legal anthropology.

Legal anthropology is a field (in both law and anthropology) that emerged in the early 20th century. Historically it focused on how societies without courts, constable, or constitutions managed disputes. Just as anthropology used to focus exclusively on "exotic" peoples in remote locales, legal anthropology used to focus on "tribes" and "remote" and "isolated" cultures around the world. So, for example, a legal anthropologist might find themselves spending months in Northern Canada with Inuit communities trying to determine how that group used to settle disputes that would have been dealt with by criminal law (judges, lawyers, criminal codes, courts.) for non-Inuit Canada. For example, it has been pointed out several times in the literature that gossip, and banishment, used to operate as forms of social control amongst the Inuit.

Anthropologists in general are now more aware that the whole concept of "exotic", "remote" "isolated" others, frozen in time, tends to objectify and demean those people who used to regularly find themselves grist for the ethnographic mill. Anthropologists have increasingly turned their "ethnographic eye" - their acutely focused attention on how things work in society on a daily basis by observing patterns of human behavior directly - on the range of subcultures within the dominant society. It is not unusual now to find an anthropologist (metaphorical pith helmet on head) observing how the justice system REALLY works; or scrutinizing corporate culture and interviewing the most powerful players in society, along with those affected by their decisions and behavior, to determine how corporations REALLY work in society.

A contemporary legal anthropologist might, for example, find overlaps with the way that gossip used to work in Inuit communities and the way that the court of public opinion (in the form of the media, or internet sites like operates as a form of social control of major corporations by ordinary consumers.

I am currently working on my third book about comparative law and legal anthropology. My first one was Incorporating the Familiar: Investigating Legal Sensibilties in Nunavik. My second one is Mapping Marriage Law in Spanish Gitano Communities, which came out two days before the Rogers and Me story came to the attention of the national media in December of 2005.

I think it would be an interesting project for a legal anthropologist to turn his or her ethnographic eye upon corporate culture in Canada and its relationship with Canadian legal culture - to write a legal ethnography of Rogers and us.