uBuntu and the Law

9780823233823: Hardback
Release Date: 2nd April 2012

Dimensions: 152.4 x 228.6

Number of Pages: 494

Series Just Ideas

Fordham University Press

uBuntu and the Law

African Ideals and Postapartheid Jurisprudence

This book brings together the uBuntu jurisprudence of South Africa, as well as the most cutting-edge critical essays about South African jurisprudence on uBuntu. Can indigenous values be rendered compatible with a modern legal system? This book raises some of the most pressing questions in cultural, political, and legal theory.
Hardback / £87.00

This is the first comprehensive casePub to address the relationship of uBuntu to law. It also provides the most important critical articles on the use of uBuntu, both by the Constitutional Court and by other levels of the judiciary in South Africa.

Although uBuntu is an ideal or value rooted in South Africa, its purchase as a performative ethic of the human goes beyond its roots in African languages. Indeed, this casePub helps break through some of the stale antinomies in the discussions of cultures and rights, since both the courts and the critical essays discuss ubuntu as not simply an indigenous or even African ideal but one that is its own terms calls for universal justification. The efforts of the Constitutional Court to take seriously competing ideals of law and justice has led to original ethical reasoning, which has significant implications for post apartheid constitutionalism and law more generally.

uBuntu, then, as it is addressed as an activist ethic of virtue and then translated into law, helps to expand the thinking of a modern legal system’s commitment to universality by deepening discussions of what inclusion and equality actually mean in a postcolonial country. Since uBuntu claims to have universal purchase, its importance as a way of thinking about law and justice is not limited to South Africa but becomes important in any human rights discourse that is not limitedly rooted in Western European ideals. Thus this book will be a crucial resource for anyone who is seriously grappling with human rights, postcolonial constitutionalism, and competing visions of the relations between law and justice.

Drucilla Cornell is Professor of Political Science, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. She also teaches at Birkbeck College, University of London, and the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

Nyoko Muvangua is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Cape Town.

This casebook helps us break through stale antinomies in discussions of culture and rights. As Cornell and Muvangua demonstrate, South Africa's young Constitutional Court has drawn on African repertoires of legal and ethical reasoning in signature efforts to deal with problems of postcolonial justice. Instead of constricting judgment into fortified spaces of difference, thinking through culture works here to expand the creative capacities of law to advance universal goals of equity and inclusion. This is salutary reading for all who seek inspiration past the ‘clash of civilizations’ mode of responding to our present global challenges.

—Hylton White
Eugene Lang College of the New School

The variety of points of view expressed in uBuntu and the Law is undoubtedly thought-provoking.

—The Cambridge Law Journal

This volume brings to light both the crucial cases and documents that are
not easily accessible and it also offers a set of fascinating and critical
writings by some of the most important legal scholars in South Africa.

—Stephen Eric Bronner
Rutgers University