Bertram Turner

Bertram TurnerNetwork Member

Bertram Turner, anthropologist, is senior researcher in the department Law & Anthropology at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. Before joining the MPI, Bertram Turner was academic assistant (assistant professor) at the Institute of Social Anthropology and African Studies in Munich from 1993 to 2001, where he taught anthropology with a special focus on religion and legal anthropology. Having studied social anthropology, ancient history, physical anthropology and human genetics in Munich, he received his doctorate in social anthropology in 1996 on the basis of his comparative research on asylum and conflict. He has held university teaching positions in Munich, Leipzig and Halle. Bert Turner has conducted extended field research in the Middle East and North Africa, Germany and Canada. Since 1996 his research interests in south-west Morocco have included the management of natural resources, politics of resource extraction, entanglements of law and technology, Islamic activism, and conflict settlement under conditions of plural legal configurations. His research in Canada has a specific focus on processes of translation within the nomosphere, especially between Moroccans and Canadians of Moroccan origin. One project addresses faith-based dispute management, while another focuses on changing notions of property and property regimes in transnational contexts. Bert Turner has published widely on the anthropology of law, religion, conflict, morality, development, and resource extraction. Within the Department of 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 continues – with a brief interruption – to be connected to it since then.

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


Legal Pluralism in the Management of Natural Resources: The Case of the Moroccan Argan Forest

Taking historical instances of globalization as a point of departure, the integration of a local natural resource and its extraction schemes in the global economy is analyzed. The research project addresses the intertwining and coproduction of normative and technological strands in the politics of natural resource extraction. Special attention is paid to the ways in which such entanglements of lawmaking, especially the production of transnational legal templates, with sciences, technology, and other knowledge regimes interact in scalar arrangements with complex plural legal configurations on the ground. From this vantage point, the integration of the Moroccan argan forest into the world economy is analyzed within the context of variegated and competing schemes of resource exploitation. From the great diversity of established modes of resource utilization in argan forest management, chiefly three schemes of exploitation are seen as interactive patterns of extraction that link up with the transnational economy: agriculture, especially the various ways of integrating forest into global cash crop production; mobile herding; and argan oil production. In the latter case, such entanglements involve the commodification of a local staple as a niche product exploitable on a global scale.


  • 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) "Dialectics of Non-power and Marginality in Mediation: Institutional Diversification and Multiple Identities of Mediators." in POLTIKA.
  • 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 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.