ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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In the Shadow of State Law?

Iterations of Law: Legal Histories from India edited by Aparna Balachandran, Rashmi Pant and Bhavani Raman, Oxford University Press, 2017; pp 312, 950.

Iterations of Law: Legal Histories from India edited by Aparna Balachandran, Rashmi Pant, and Bhavani Raman is a valuable contribution to the fields of history, sociology, law and jurisprudence. The editors as well as contributors take us back to the formative era of common law in India. They show us how the social norms dispute settlement and ideas about law and order (jurisprudence) coexisted, competed, conflicted, mutated, and began to yield to emergent incipient colonial law and its forced monopoly of the modern state.

In many ways, this work fully lives up to the introductory quote from the veteran Robert Cover who insists that far from exhausting its capacity to imbue acts of “resistance or disobedience,” the law “is a resource in signification that enables us to submit, rejoice, struggle, pervert, mock, disgrace, humiliate or dignify” (p 1). In the editor’s words, the law appears in various guises and “people’s hopes and aspirations are caught up in it, as are their dream of justice” (p 1). I do not undertake, in this brief review, a fuller examination of the historical and empirical studies valuably offered by this volume, but merely explore the many significant conceptual takeaways.

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Updated On : 18th Mar, 2019

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