Legal Pluralism in Central Asia reports on historical, anthropological and legal research which examines customary legal practices in Kyrgyzstan and relates them to wider societal developments in Central Asia and further afield. Using the term legal pluralism, the book demonstrates that there is a spectrum of approaches, available avenues, forms of local law and indigenous popular justice in Kyrgyzstan’s predominantly rural communities, which can be labelled living law. Based on her extensive original research, Mahabat Sadyrbek shows how contemporary peoples systematically address challenging problems, such as disputes, violence, accidents, crime and other difficulties, and thereby seek justice, redress, punishment, compensation, readjustment of relations or closure. She demonstrates that local law, expressed through ritually structured communicative exchange, through dictums and proverbs with binding characters and different legal practices or processes undertaken in specific ways, deem the solutions appropriate and acceptable. The reader is thereby enabled to see the law in people’s deepest assumptions and beliefs, in codes of shame and honour, in local mores and ethics as well as in religious terms. In this way, the book reveals the dynamic, changing and living character of law in a specific context and in a region hitherto insufficiently researched within legal anthropology.

part |68 pages

Part I

chapter 1|26 pages


chapter 2|16 pages

Legal pluralism in Kyrgyzstan

chapter 3|24 pages

Social structure and agency

part |50 pages

Part II

chapter 4|15 pages

Concept of apology and forgiveness

chapter 5|16 pages

Mediation and negotiation

chapter 6|17 pages

Making amends and kun-giving

part |63 pages

Part III

chapter 7|11 pages

The state as the main form of ordering

chapter 8|24 pages

Eldik sot – people’s law

chapter 9|26 pages

Islam as a reference

chapter |11 pages


chapter |13 pages

Index of cases