This book deals with the property and inheritance system of the matrilineal Minangkabau of West Sumatra in the context of legal pluralism. The author proposes a new anthropological approach to law, property and inheritance. After the description of the Minangkabau socio-political organization and the development of legal and administrative pluralism, three chapters are devoted to property and inheritance proper. First the ideal legal systems are described. Then he illustrates how the Minangkabau actually handle their property and inheritance affairs, and how the various regulating mechanisms have changed through history. Finally the different agents creating and changing legal conceptions are treated in historical perspective. In his conclusions the author shows how the traditional system of common holding and distributing of property by matrilineal descent groups is slowly being undermined through an increasing monetarization and consequent individualization of property relationships which finds its expression in the form of new legislation. This development is reflected in the conceptual system where the formerly predominant diachronic dimension of property relationships is slowly abolished and where property rights are increasingly reified.
Full text Open Access.