Bertram Turner

Bertram TurnerNetwork Member

Bertram Turner is an anthropologist and senior researcher in the department Law & Anthropology at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. He has conducted extended field research in the Middle East and North Africa, the EU, and Canada and has held university teaching positions in Munich, Leipzig, and Halle. He is member of the executive body of the Commission on Legal Pluralism and an associate editor for the Journal of Legal Pluralism. He has published widely on the anthropology of law and legal pluralism, religion, conflict, morality, development, governance, science and technology, law in infrastructure and supply chains, and resource extraction. Within the department Law & Anthropology, Bert Turner is responsible for keeping abreast of the field of anthropology of law, its empirical, foundational and long-term research, as well as its theorizing and future development. He joined the LOST Research Group when it was established and has continued – with a brief interruption – to be connected to it ever since.

Current position
Senior Researcher
University affiliation
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology


Bert is currently mainly concerned with legal pluralism as a relational way of knowing the world and a worldmaking tool. He draws on insights from legal anthropology, science and technology studies, general social theory, and socio-legal studies in order to account for the multiplicity of onto-legalities, multispecies normativities, and the normative power of technologies, materiality, and matter in reassembling legal pluralism. This approach indexes a multiplicity of possible futures and goes beyond law as a positivist enactment that prefigures a hegemonic legal universe in which legal pluralism serves as a normative project of global governance. Instead, it imagines legal pluralism as an appropriate epistemic tool to theorize a decolonial legal pluriverse. Such pluriversal legal pluralism can aid in determining legal accountability across onto-legal differences by considering the legal consciousness and (extended) legal personhood of human selves as they relate to their belonging to multiple communities of law. How do people make choices from among legal registers that compose plural legal configurations while such configurations extend to include ordering regimes that emerge out of the legal agency of technology and matter? Such an understanding of legal pluralism as a relational theory focuses on theorizing legal practice of the everyday beyond the understanding of this concept as a normative project in legal sciences.

This theoretical approach is explored concretely in the context of ethnographic field research in Morocco, specifically the argan region where a unique forest ecosystem and agrobusiness cash-crop production intertwine. From there the research extends into multi-sited ethnography along the supply chain of the main forest product, argan oil, and follows migratory flows from the region of origin to host countries.

In conjunction with his interest in law and legal pluralism, Bert has done extended research on the institutional arrangements that intertwine in composing legal-infrastructural assemblages of conflict processing. He has widely published on asylum, exile, retaliation, forgiveness, the production of truth and evidence, mediation, and processes of inclusion and exclusion. Moreover, the law-and-religion nexus, migration, and the relatedness of property, materiality, extractivism, and resource management to one another pertain to his key areas of research.


  • Turner, Bertram and Melanie G. Wiber (2022) "Legal Pluralism and Science and Technologies Studies: Exploring Sources of the Legal Pluriverse." in Science, Technology, & Human Values.
  • Turner, Bertram (2021) "Legal Pluralism in Infrastructural Designs: Alternative Supply Chains in the Moroccan Argan Oil Export." in Science, Technology, & Human Values.
  • Turner, Bertram and Melanie G. Wiber (2020) "Law, Science, and Technologies." in The Oxford Handbook of Law and Anthropology , edited by Marie-Claire Foblets, Mark Goodale, Maria Sapignoli and Olaf Zenker. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von and Bertram Turner (2020) "Anthropological Roots of Global Legal Pluralism." in The Oxford Handbook of Global Legal Pluralism , edited by Paul Schiff Berman, 67-141. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Turner, Bertram (2019) "From Retaliation to Human Security: Epistemology and insights gained in the Halle chapter of REMEP 2008-2012 (and beyond)." in Understanding Retaliation, Mediation and Punishment , edited by Timm P. Sureau and Yelva Auge, 19-34. Halle (Saale): IMPRESS.
  • Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von and Bertram Turner (2018) "Legal pluralism, social theory, and the state." in Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 50 (3): 255-274. →
  • Turner, Bertram (2017) "Translocal, faith-based dispute management: Moroccan-Canadian struggles with normative plurality." in Multireligious Society: Dealing with religious diversity in theory and practice , edited by Colom González, Francisco and Gianni D’Amato, 213-235. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Turner, Bertram (2017) "Dialectics of Non-power and Marginality in Mediation: Institutional Diversification and Multiple Identities of Mediators." in POLTIKA.
  • Turner, Bertram and Günther Schlee (eds.) (2017) "On Retaliation: Towards an Interdisciplinary Understanding of a Basic Human Condition." New York, Oxford: Berghahn.
  • Turner, Bertram (2017) "Translating evidentiary practices and technologies of truth finding: Oath taking as witness testimony in plural legal configurations in Morocco." in Truth, Intentionality and Evidence: Anthropological Approaches to Crime , edited by Yazd Ben Hounet and Deborah Puccio-Den, 112-129. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Turner, Bertram (2017) "Conclusion: Retaliation in Specific Spheres of Effectiveness." in On Retaliation: Towards an Interdisciplinary Understanding of a Basic Human Condition , edited by Betram Turner and Günther Schlee, 283-305. New York, Oxford: Berghahn.
  • Turner, Bertram (2017) "Introduction On Retaliation: Conceptual Plurality, Transdisciplinary Research, Rifts, Blurrings and Translations." in On Retaliation: Towards an Interdisciplinary Understanding of a Basic Human Condition , edited by Bertram Turner and Günther Schlee, 1-25. New York, Oxford: Berghahn.
  • Turner, Bertram (2017) "The anthropology of property." in Comparative Property Law: Global Perspectives , edited by Michele Graziadei and Lionel Smith, 26-47. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
  • Turner, Bertram (2016) "Technologies of truth finding: Provision of evidence in local dealings with crime and deviance in rural Morocco." in Cahiers d’anthropologie sociale 13: 60-77.
  • Turner, Bertram (2016) "Supply-chain legal pluralism: Normativity as constitutive of chain infrastructure in the Moroccan argan oil supply chain." in Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 48 (3): 378-414.
  • Turner, Bertram (2015) "Introduction. Exploring avenues of research in legal pluralism: Forward-looking perspectives in the work of Franz von Benda-Beckmann." in Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 47 (3): 375-410.
  • Turner, Bertram (2014) "Neoliberal Politics of Resource Extraction: Moroccan Argan Oil." in Forum for Development Studies 41 (2): 207-232.
  • Turner, Bertram (2013) "Religious Subtleties in Disputing: Spatiotemporal inscriptions of faith in the nomosphere in rural Morocco." in Religion in Dispute: Pervasiveness of Religious Normativity in Disputing Processes , edited by Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann, Martin Ramstedt and Bertram Turner, 55-73. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Wiber, Melanie and Bertram Turner (2010) "Moral Talk: The Ontological Politics of Sustainable Development." in Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Working Papers No. 123.
  • Kirsch, Thomas and Bertram Turner (eds.) (2009) "Permutations of Order: Religion and Law as Contested Sovereignties." Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Turner, Bertram and Melanie G. Wiber (2009) "Paradoxical Conjunctions: Rural Property and Access to Rural Resources in a Transnational Environment." in Anthropologica: Journal of the Canadian Anthropology Society 51 (1): 3-28.
  • Turner, Bertram (2007) "Social Lines of Conflict between Mobile Pastoralism and Agriculture in the Moroccan Souss." in Pastoral Morocco: Globalizing Scapes of Mobility and Insecurity , edited by Jörg Gertel and Ingo Breuer, 193–210. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
  • Turner, Bertram (2006) "Competing Global Players in Rural Morocco: Upgrading legal arenas." in Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law (Special Issue: Dynamics of Plural Legal Orders) 53/54: 101–139. , edited by Franz von Benda-Beckmann and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann.
  • Turner, Bertram (2005) "Asyl und Konflikt. Von der Antike bis heute: Rechtsethnologische Untersuchungen." Berlin: Reimer Verlag.