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Empires of Law in Colonial South Asia

Monday, October 12, 2020 - 12:00pm - 01:00pm



Tanya Agathocleous, Associate Professor of English, CUNY/Hunter College
Disaffected: Emotion, Sedition, and Colonial Law in the Anglosphere
In 1870, Section 124a of the Indian Penal Code made “disaffection” a key term in its arsenal against critique by targeting the affect of writing deemed threatening, as opposed to seditious statements. Section 124a shaped conversations in the colonial public sphere; the way various forms of anti-colonialism took shape; and the relationship between the state and the public in the postcolony. Disaffection, this talk argues, is a crucial term for understanding the centrality of affect to governance in the colonial period and the way calls for civility were used to segregate the public sphere, as well as for recognizing and analyzing the varied forms that critique took under conditions of censorship.

Mitra SharafiProfessor of Law and History, University of Wisconsin
Imperial Truth Mechanics: Law and Forensic Science in Colonial India
This talk will explore two sets of big ideas that were in tension with each other during the heyday of forensic science in British India. Between the mid-nineteenth century and the mid-twentieth, colonial stereotypes about “native mendacity” powered the criminal justice system’s turn to western science. At the same time, another line of colonial reasoning may have stunted the rigorous presentation of scientific opinion in the courtroom. The talk explores this tension through the example of state toxicologists known as the chemical examiners.


Part one: 

  • A pre-recorded short video talks that participants view BEFORE the synchronous event.

Part two:

  • A one hour moderated live Zoom-based webinar discussion on October 12th.


Visit our registration page.
You will receive an email with a link to join us in advance of our event.

Pre-recorded Videos

Please watch each recording in advance of our Zoom event.

Mitra Sharafi, Professor of Law and History, University of Wisconsin

Tanya Agathocleous, Associate Professor of English, CUNY/Hunter College