| Introduction to Law and History

Course Information

  • 2022-23
  • 3-Year LL.B. (Hons.)
  • I
  • Nov 2022
  • Core Course

This course is intended to introduce to students the relationship between law and historical research. It will serve as a primer to the various methodological and theoretical approaches to history writing and the tools historians employ to understand sources, events and historical phenomena with a focus on South Asian legal history. By surveying a range of Western and South Asian scholarship produced from the 1960s on the disciplinary foundations of legal history, legal profession, issues of legal pluralism and traditional modes of dispute resolution,
themes of gender, race, religion and identity formation in the colonial period as well as histories of petitioning and litigants, this course asks the following questions : Firstly what is modern about the Indian legal system? Secondly, to what extent was it shaped by the imperatives of colonial rule? Thirdly, how did colonial laws reshape existing social customs, race relations, social identities and familial structures? Fourthly, how did it impact existing
modes of dispute resolution and bodies of personal law? Fifthly, how do we incorporate histories of the users of law and by doing so go beyond the formal arenas of law making? The course is divided into five modules. The first module deals with the legal studies and the law and society movement in the US and United Kingdom which initiated empirical and methodological reflections regarding law, politics and history. Building on this rich body of
work, this module then looks at the first wave of Indian legal histories on the complex interactions between traditional and modern legal systems. The second module traces the intellectual, social and cultural foundations of the rule of law in the context of colonial expansion in India. The third module looks at law making and the reconfigurations of social identities.The fourth module will look at issues of sovereignty, legal pluralism and the
production of colonial difference through legal practices. The fifth module will shift focus away from law as an instrument of colonial domination to the experiential aspects of law making particularly through a wide range of legal genres such as testimonies and petitions.


Vidhya Raveendranathan

Assistant Professor | AY 2022-23

Dr. Sukhalata Sen

Visiting Faculty