Monday, November 14, 2016

Hinduism and Sanskrit in legal history

Two new books out in 2015-16 will be of interest to scholars working on law and religion in South Asian history. 

Filing ReligionFor reference, there is A Sanskrit Dictionary of Law and Statecraft, published by Primus Books (2015). The dictionary is edited by Patrick Olivelle (University of Texas at Austin), with associate editors David Brick (Yale) and Mark McClish (Northwestern). It is “the first dictionary of its kind.”

The second book is Filing Religion: State, Hinduism and Courts of Law (Oxford University Press, 2016). This volume is edited by Daniela Berti, GillesTarabout, and Raphaël Voix (all at CNRS, Paris).

From the press:
The Indian Constitution posits a separation between a secular domain that the state can regulate and a religious one in which it should not 
interfere. However, defining the separation between the two has proved contentious: the state is involved in various ways in the direct administration of many religious institutions; and courts are regularly asked to decide on rights linked to religious functions and bodies. Such decisions contribute to (re)defining religious categories and practices. 
This edited volume aims at exploring how apparently technical legalistic action taking place in courts of law significantly shapes the place Hinduism occupies in Indian and Nepalese societies, perhaps even more so than the ideology of any political party. Thus, this volume does not deal so much with politics of secularism in general, but with how courts deal in practice with Hinduism. The approach developed in this volume is resolutely historical and anthropological. It considers law as part of social, religious, and political dynamics while relying on in-depth ethnography and archival research.
Historically oriented articles include:
Chapter 5. Slaves and Sons: The Court Dynamics of a Religious Dispute in South India, by Ute Hüsken 
Chapter 7. British Justice and the Lustful Mahant, by France Bhattacharya 
Chapter 8. ‘This Land is Mine’: Mahants, Civil Law and Political Articulations of Hinduism in Twentieth Century North India, by Malavika Kasturi 
Chapter 9. Claiming Religious Rights from a Secular Power: Judgment Regarding the Rules of Succession to the Position of Shebait in a North Indian Temple, by Catherine Clementin-Ojha
Further information is available here