The relationship between Law and Anthropology can be considered as having been particularly intimate. In this book the authors defend their assertion that the two fields co-exist in a condition of "balanced reciprocity" wherein each makes important contributions to the successful practice and theory of the other. Anthropology, for example, offers a cross-culturally validated generic concept of "law," and clarifies other important legal concepts such as "religion" and "human rights." Law similarly illuminates key anthropological ideas such as the "social contract," and provides a uniquely valuable access point for the analysis of sociocultural systems. Legal practice renders a further important benefit to anthropology when it validates anthropological knowledge through the use of anthropologists as expert witnesses in the courtroom and the introduction of the "culture defense" against criminal charges.
Although the actual relationship between anthropology and law today falls short of this idealized state of balanced reciprocity, the authors include historical and other data suggesting that that level of intimate cooperation draws ever closer.