It was fantastic to see so many South Asianists at the Law and Society Association‘s 2017 international meeting in Mexico City recently. There were a bunch of panels sponsored by the South Asia Collaborative Research Network (CRN22), which I organize. These included:
- “Corruption in South Asia, past and present” with Andy Spalding, James Jaffe, Nicholas Abbott, Elizabeth Lhost, Mitra Sharafi, and Simanti Dasgupta
- “Afterlives: Postcolonial Laws and their colonial antecedents in South Asia” with David Gilmartin, Neeti Nair, Anand Yang, and Mithi Mukherjee
Some CRN-sponsored panels were also International Research Collaboratives (IRC). IRC 11 looks at legal institutions across South Asia, while IRC 16 examines law and visual culture in South Asia:
- “Diffused Present and Entangled Pasts: Law and its consequences in South Asia” (IRC 11) with Cynthia Farid, Maryam Khan, Dinesha Samararatne, Yugank Goyal, and Golnoosh Hakimdavar
- “Politics, Sociality and Images of Justice” (IRC 16) with Mayur Suresh, Srimati Basu, Werner Gephart, Amit Prakash, and Raja Sakrani
- “Law, Publicity and Evidence” (IRC 16) with Leslie Moran, Mayur Suresh, Pratiksha Baxi, and Mani Shekhar Singh
- “Picturing Law” (IRC 16) with Mani Shekhar Singh, Rahela Khorakiwala, Jayati Srivastava, Shailesh Kumar, Trish Luker, and Katherine Biber
Two CRN22 panels were book-related:
- Author-meets-Reader session on Anuj Bhuwania’s Courting the People: Public Interest Litigation in Post-Emergency India (Cambridge University Press, 2016) with Pratiksha Baxi, Haley Duschinski, Anil Kalhan, Jinee Lokaneeta, Mayur Suresh, Anand Vaidya, and author Anuj Bhuwania
- “New Books in South Asian Legal Studies,” chaired by Mitra Sharafi. This was a new format of panel that we hope the LSA continues. Each author discussed both his or her own book and at least one other book on the panel. The authors and books featured were:
- James Jaffe, Ironies of Colonial Governance: Law, Custom and Justice in Colonial India (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
- Harshan Kumarasingham, ed., Constitution-making in Asia: Decolonisation and state-building in the aftermath of the British Empire (Routledge, 2016)
- Nayanika Mathur, Paper Tiger: Law, Bureaucracy and the Developmental State in Himalayan India (Cambridge University Press, 2016)
- Simanti Dasgupta, BITS of Belonging: Information Technology, Water, and Neoliberal Governance in India (Temple University Press, 2015)
Full details on all of the above are available here.
We also had about 35 people come to the annual CRN22 lunch (co-sponsored by CRN15: British Colonial Legalities).
Naturally, the conference program had some serious competition from the sights and tastes of Mexico City. Fellow conference-goer Mark Massoud published this “love letter to Mexico City” in the San Francisco Chronicle right after the trip; it captures the sentiments of many of us! Some of us are on a Mexican cooking spree since returning, too. Check out the “Mexico in my kitchen” blog if you’re looking for recipes (thanks, Swethaa Ballakrishnen!). And as a historian, I must share some fascinating tidbits connecting India and Mexico:
- Famous Indians in exile lived in Mexico City in the 1910s-20s, including Pandurang Khankhoje (Scroll.in has this) and M. N. Roy. For more on Roy, see Isabel Huacuja Alonso‘s article, “M. N. Roy and the Mexican Revolution: How a Militant Indian Nationalist Became an International Communist.” And here is a fun cartoon about the nightclub in Mexico City named after him (with thanks to Vasujith Ram).
- (this one also brings in the US) In the early 20th c., some Punjabi men living in California married Mexican women. This pattern ended once US immigration law changed. See Karen Leonard, Making Ethnic Choices: California’s Punjabi Mexican Americans (Temple University Press, 1994). There is also this 2012 Washington Post article: “Punjabi Sikh-Mexican community fading into history.”
All of this is to say *gracias* to the LSA for taking us to Mexico City this time. It was a fabulous choice.
[updated on 12 July 2017]