Fernanda Pirie


Professor of the Anthropology of Law, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies




An anthropologist specialising in Tibetan societies, Fernanda has used her research into legal practices and legal codes to develop the anthropology of law. Presented in The Anthropology of Law (OUP, 2013), her approach builds on themes and debated developed in the Legalism research group, which she convenes with colleagues in anthropology and history. It is the basis for continuing research in to Tibetan legal history, as well as related issues, such as comparison in law and anthropology and the relationship between empirical studies and legal theory.

Fernanda is currently working on Legal Ideology in Tibet: Politics, Practice, and Religion, an AHRC-funded project on the legal history of medieval Tibet.


Research Projects

Research Interests

Anthropology of law; Tibetan law and legal practices; Legalism; The English Bar

Options Taught

Law in Society


DPhil in Social Anthropology (Oxford) 2002 MSc in Social Anthropology (UCL) 1998 Called to the Bar 1988 BA in French and Philosophy (Oxford) 1986


  • F Pirie, A. Kubal and N. Creutzfeldt, 'Introduction: Exploring the Comparative in Socio-Legal Studies' (2016) 12 .International Journal of Law in Context 377–89 

  • F Pirie, 'Legal Theory and Legal History: A View from Anthropology' in M. del Mar and A. Lobban (eds), Law in Theory and History: New Essays on a Neglected Dialogue (Hart 2016) 

  • F Pirie, 'State, Law, and Morality in Traditional Tibet' in J. Bischoff & S. Mullard (ed), Social Regulation: Case Studies from Tibetan History (Brill 2016) 

  • F Pirie, 'Legalism and the Anthropology of Law' (2015) 36 Recht der Werklijkeid 99 

  • F Pirie, 'Oaths and Ordeals in Tibetan Law' in D. Schuh (ed), Secular Law and Order in the Tibetan Highland (International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies 2015) 

  • F Pirie, 'Rules, Proverbs, and Persuasion: Legalism and Rhetoric in Tibet' in Paul Dresch and Judith Scheele (eds), Legalism: Rules and Categories (OUP 2015) 

  • F Pirie, 'Community, Justice, and Legalism: Elusive Concepts in Tibet' in Fernanda Pirie and Judith Scheele (eds), Legalism: Community and Justice (OUP 2014) 

  • F Pirie, 'Comparison in the Anthropology and History of Law' (2014) 9 Journal of Comparative Law 88 

  • F Pirie and Judith Scheele, 'Justice, Community, and Law' in Fernanda Pirie and Judith Scheele (eds), Legalism: Community and Justice (OUP 2014) 

  • F Pirie and Judith Scheele (eds), Legalism: Community and Justice (OUP 2014) 

  • F Pirie, 'Law and Religion in Historic Tibet' in F. and K. von Benda-Beckmann, M. Ramstedt, and B. Turner (eds), Religion in Disputes (Palgrave Macmillan 2013) 

  • F Pirie and Justine Rogers, 'Pupillage: The Shaping of a Professional Elite' in J. Abbink and T. Salverda (eds), The Anthropology of Elites (Palgrave Macmillan 2013) 

  • F Pirie, The Anthropology of Law (OUP, Clarendon Law Series 2013) 

  • F Pirie, 'The Limits of the State: Coercion and Consent in Chinese Tibet' (2013) 72 Journal of Asian Studies 69 

  • F Pirie, 'Who were the Tibetan Lawmakers?' in C. Ramble, P. Schwieger, and A. Travers (eds), Tibetans who Escaped the Historian's Net (Vajra Books 2013) 

  • F Pirie, 'Legal Dramas on the Amdo Grasslands: Abolition, transformation, or Survival?' in K . Buffetrille (ed), Revisiting Rituals in a Changing Tibetan World (Brill 2012) 

  • F Pirie, 'Law Before Government: Ideology and Aspiration' (2010) 30 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 207 

  • F Pirie, 'From Tribal Tibet: The Significance of the Legal Form' in M. Freeman and D. Napier (eds), Law and Anthropology(OUP 2009) 

  • F Pirie, 'Kings, Monks, Bureaucrats, and the Police: Tibetan Responses to Law and Authority' in F. and K. van Benda-beckmann, and A. Griffiths (eds), The Power of Law in a Transnational World (Berghahn 2009) 

  • F Pirie, 'The Horse with Two Saddles: Tamxhwe in Modern Golok' (2009) 1 Asian Highland Perspectives 164 

  • F Pirie and Toni Huber (eds), Conflict and Social Order in Tibet and Inner Asia (Brill 2008) 

  • F Pirie, 'Dancing in the Face of Death: Losar Celebrations in Photoksar' in M. van Beek and F. Pirie (eds), Modern Ladakh(Brill 2008) 

  • Martijn van Beek and F Pirie (eds), Modern Ladakh: Continuity and Change in Anthropological Perspective (Brill 2008) 

  • F Pirie, 'Violence and Opposition among the Nomads of Amdo' in F. Pirie and T. Huber (eds), Conflict and Social Order in Tibet and Inner Asia (Brill 2008) 

  • Keebet von Benda-Beckmann and F Pirie (eds), Order and Disorder: Anthropological Perspectives (Berghahn 2007) 

  • F Pirie, 'Order, Individualism, and Responsibility: Contrasting Dynamics on the Tibetan Plateau' in K. von Benda-Beckmann and F. Pirie (eds), Order and Disorder (Berghahn 2007) 

  • F Pirie, Peace and Conflict in Ladakh: The Construction of a Fragile Web of Order (Brill 2007) 

  • F Pirie, 'Legal Autonomy as Political Engagement: The Ladakhi Village in the Wider World' (2006) 40 Law and Society Review 77 

  • F Pirie, 'Secular Morality, Village law, and Buddhism in Tibetan Societies' (2006) 12 Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 173 

  • F Pirie, 'Segmentation Within the State: The Reconfiguration of Tibetan Tribes in China's Reform Period' (2005) 9 Nomadic Peoples 83

Photograph of Fernanda Pirie