1118 | Colonialism and Law in British India

Course Information

  • 2021-22
  • 1118
  • 5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), LL.M.
  • III, IV, V
  • Jul 2021
  • Elective Course

This course focuses on the formation of the colonial legal regime and the making of the colonial legal subject in South Asia under British rule. The course seeks to uncover the relationship between imperial law and the process of colonialism, colonial law and colonial violence, law and exception and so on.

This course will act as an advanced level complimentary course to the course named “History II”, being offered for the B.A., LLB (Hons.), II Year, for the term March 2021. This course is designed to be an advanced level theoretical course for legal history, and hence should follow Dr. Ghosh’s course. This course has primarily included empirical and conceptual historical works, from India, as well as from other ex-colonies, to formulate certain conceptual ideas regarding the history of the intricate and layered relationship between imperial law and colonialism. The course also seeks to introduce, albeit in limited scope, the British legal enterprises in the province of Assam, an imperial frontier in British India, in order to locate a few interesting and often ignored facets of colonial legality in India. Choice of reading materials are mostly limited to secondary historical scholarship. I have excluded talking about court histories as well as the history of the Jury in the colonial courts in India in order to limit the class duration to 40 hours.

The course will be a mixture of lectures and seminar style discussion. The essential perquisition is that the students come prepared for the classes by reading the materials suggested and engage in class discussions.

The modules are structured in a way to ascertain that the course chronologically and conceptually addresses the imperial ideologies in the establishment of the colonial legal regime, the conceptual and material changes marking the introduction of the English Rule of law and its associated features and institutions, the layered and complex trajectories of the colonial Rule of Law in India, empirical and conceptual histories of the relationship between imperial law and colonialism, the English Rule of Law and colonial mutations, extraordinary laws and the colonial present, Law and Violence in British India and so on. Finally, the last module focuses on law and the colonial state in British Assam, an often-ignored aspect and area in the histories of colonialism and law in India.