Court in between: the spaces of relational justice in Papua New Guinea

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This article considers local-level disputing in Papua New Guinea by bringing two theories into play: spatial justice, borrowed from the ‘geographical’ turn in legal theory, and relational justice, from the anthropology of law. Disputes negotiated by means of the country’s village courts system are sometimes characterised by metropolitans as institutions that dispense peace instead of justice. I argue, through a comparison of contemporary and historical examples from local disputing processes, that village courts do exercise a form of justice, but it is not a justice of closure or peace. Rather, it is the justice of opening the space of relations between disputing parties, as a technique of recognising the ongoing potential of such relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-30
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Feminist Law Journal
Issue number1
Early online date7 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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