Of Time, Honor, and Memory: Oral Law in Albania

Abstract

Former Albanian ambassador to the United States, Tarifa provides a historical account of the role of oral tradition in the transmission of an ancient code of customary law that has shaped and dominated the lives of northern Albanians until well into the mid-twentieth century. This traditional body of law, known as the Kode of Lekë Dukagjini, represents a series of norms, mores, and injunctions that were passed down by word of mouth for generations. The article ultimately seeks to illuminate the role of oral tradition in the formulation and maintenance of law, as well as the specific ways in which Albanian society has been affected—within the greater context of Turkish imperialism—by this ancient and powerful body of knowledge.

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