All institutions concerned with the process of judging - whether it be deciding between alternative courses of action, determining a judge’s professional integrity, assigning culpability for an alleged crime, or ruling on the credibility of an asylum claimant - are necessarily directly concerned with the question of doubt. By putting ritual and judicial settings into comparative perspective, in contexts as diverse as Indian and Taiwanese divination and international cricket, as well as legal processes in France, the UK, India, Denmark, and Ghana, this book offers a comprehensive and novel perspective on techniques for casting and dispelling doubt, and the roles they play in achieving verdicts or decisions that appear both valid and just. Broadening the theoretical understandings of the social role of doubt, both in social science and in law, the authors present these understandings in ways that not only contribute to academic knowledge but are also useful to professionals and other participants engaged in the process of judging. This collection will consequently be of great interest to academics researching in the fields of legal anthropology, ritual studies, legal sociology, criminology, and socio-legal studies.
’Of Doubt and Proof highlights issues of considerable importance for the social sciences, not least for lawyers and others such as anthropologists concerned with what Bourdieu called the juridical field�. Its comparative scope, with studies of ritual and judicial processes in Africa, Asia and Europe, is especially impressive and enhances its originality.’ Ralph Grillo, University of Sussex, UK ’Doubt is not the opposite of belief, as anthropologists have recently shown, but depends upon belief and in turn helps to constitute it. This book, in writing that is both precise and wonderfully imaginative, explores this apparent paradox in relation to the legal terrain, where doubt is routinely cast and then dispelled through compelling public performances. In the process, the book - showing how law and ritual may have much more in common than formerly supposed - innovatively ranges across settings from asylum courts in France, Denmark and the UK, through Indian temple consultations, to Chinese divination. It ambitiously challenges us to think beyond the level of the obvious, while also making a thoughtful and rigorous contribution to the novel field of the anthropology of doubt and evidence.’ Deborah James, London School of Economics, UK ’This volume represents a crucial intervention into the question of what happens in institutional settings where doubt must be exercised, not as a presumed internal or affective state, but as a technique of knowledge formation. The cases presented here show that doubt is such a successful technique that it must be managed through a host of other social forms. These cases also show that it is often divinatory practices, and not courtroom judgements, in which doubt is more rigorously exercised in arriving at a decision. This is a collection that shows through felicitous juxtaposition of the legal and the ritual how the former shares far more sociological elements with the latter than is often acknowledged.’ Melissa Demia