Matteo Nicolini

Disengaging Africa from the colonial syndrome: towards a classification beyond Finiterrae

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The article focuses on several issues scholars copy with when studying African legal systems. Taxonomies and classifications worked out in comparative legal studies are indebted with Eurocentric conceptions of the law, and therefore do not adequately match those legal systems, such as the African ones, that lie beyond the Western legal tradition. Classifications, then, still reflect the "colonial lag" in comparative legal studies. The article proposes an alternative reading of African legal systems, which is based on post-colonial studies, and reflects the peculiar spatiality of African legal systems, as well as their constitutional implications. It then examines how different systems (African customary law, Roman-Dutch law, Malagasy Law, Colonial Law) have shaped Africa's constitutional traditions.


  • African Law
  • Colonial Policy
  • Eurocentrism
  • Southern African Law
  • Malagasy Law
  • Tropical African Law
  • Constitutional Legal Traditions


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