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Law and Cultural Conflict, 78 CHICAGO-KENT LAW REVIEW 485 (2003).


The subject of this symposium, "law and cultural conflict," is wide-ranging and various. Even if we sharply narrow our focus to the judicial institutions by which the state declares and enforces its official vision of social order, "law" is multifarious in its purposes and functions. "Cultural conflicts" also come in radically diverse forms. Taken together, the permutations are staggering in their array and complexity. It is not surprising that debates about "law and cultural conflict" sometimes lose traction, because participants can so easily talk past each other by emphasizing different aspects of the larger subject.

The most useful contribution I can make as an introductory speaker, therefore, is to chart the overall contours of the topic which this conference seeks to address. My effort shall be to sketch an analytic framework that is sufficiently general to mediate usefully among the widely disparate views that participants in this conference will no doubt bring to bear on its three major topics: family, expression, and religion.

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