Traditional Justice

ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee

Question/Answer on cataloging issues – November, 2012

Question: What kinds of subject headings would one use to find (or catalog) works about traditional justice?


I found myself asking this very question when a book entitled ‘Fambul Tok’ crossed my desk without any subjects.  Fambul tok is “a face-to-face community-owned program bringing together perpetrators and victims of the violence in Sierra Leone’s … civil war through ceremonies rooted in the local traditions of war-torn villages. It provides Sierra Leonean citizens with an opportunity to come to terms with what happened during the war, to talk, to heal, and to chart a new path forward, together.

Fambul Tok is built upon Sierra Leone’s ‘family talk’ tradition of discussing and resolving issues within the security of a family circle. The program works at the village level to help communities organize ceremonies that include truth-telling bonfires and traditional cleansing ceremonies—practices that many communities have not employed since before the war. Through drawing on age-old traditions of confession, apology and forgiveness, Fambul Tok has revived Sierra Leoneans’ rightful pride in their culture.”–

Subject access points:

650 _0 Restorative justice $z Sierra Leone.

650 _0 Reconciliation. (Cannot geographically subdivide)

651 _0 Sierra Leone $x Social life and customs.

650 _0 Rites and ceremonies $z Sierra Leone.

650 _0 Bonfires $x Social aspects $z Sierra Leone.

650 _0 Purity, Ritual $x Social aspects $z Sierra Leone.

Here are other access points depending on the nature of the material being described:

650 _0 Dispute resolution (Law) $z [Place]

650 _0 Healing $z [Place]

650 _0 Human rights $x Anthropological aspects $z [Place]

650 _0 Transitional justice $z [Place]

  • Scope note: Here are entered works on a range of judicial and non-judicial policies states may adopt to address past human rights abuses.

650 _0 Truth commissions $z [Place]

  • Scope note: Here are entered works on temporary government bodies, generally established after a totalitarian or authoritarian regime has been succeeded by a democratic one, for the purpose of investigating human rights violations that were committed during a defined period in the past.

650 _0 [Ethnic group] $x Politics and government.

  • Example: Indians of North America $x Politics and government.

650 _0 [Ethnic group] $x Social life and customs.

  • Example: Tiruray (Philippine people) $x Social life and customs.

For more formal presentations of law of a particular ethnic people:

650 _0 Customary law $z [Place]

650 _0 Customary law courts $z [Place]

650 _0 Justice, Administration of $z [Place]

or narrower terms such as:

  • 650 _0 Criminal Justice, Administration of $z [Place]
  • 650 _0 Juvenile Justice, Administration of $z [Place]

650 _0 Law, [Ethnicity] such as : Law, Igbo or Law, Tiruray

650 _0 [Ethnic group] $x Legal status, laws, etc.

  • Example: Igbo (African people) $x Legal status, laws, etc.

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