Democracy, Family, and Religious-Customary Law in South Asia

Research project
World History
Economic, Social and Cultural History

This project demonstrates how the codification of religious personal laws permitted state  to enter into intimate dialogue with citizens on their domestic lives, which was largely mediated through religion in post colonial India.
Questions of secularism, constitutionalism, rights of minorities and women dominated the political and judicial discourses in independent India and produced contestations which were formative of India’s democracy. Family law, arguably the most visible sphere of such contestation, emerged as a particularly hospitable arena for conversations between religious and legal regimes. The project analyses how the attempts to translate marriage and divorce laws and customs of Hindu, Muslim, and Christian communities into codes and statutes contributed to a unique evolution of both, the rule of law, and the doctrine of secularism in twentieth-century India.

This fellowship is funded by the British Academy.