University of Cambridge > > Centre of South Asian Studies Seminars > The Politics of Islamic Law: Local Elites, Colonial Authority and the Making of the Muslim State.

The Politics of Islamic Law: Local Elites, Colonial Authority and the Making of the Muslim State.

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Abstract: This talk will present material from the forthcoming book, The Politics of Islamic Law (U Chicago Press 2015), which undertakes a cross-regional comparison of India, Malaya and Egypt during the British colonial period, based upon extensive archival work in English, Arabic and Malay, tracing the transformation of Islamic law from an uncodified and locally administered set of legal institutions with wide-ranging jurisdiction to a codified, state-centered system with jurisdiction largely over family law. This new Islamic law has endured into the post-colonial Muslim state, providing the frame within which Islam is articulated in many Muslim majority and minority states today, setting the agenda for legislation and social policy, and defining the limits of reform. This book offers a genealogy of contemporary Islamic law; a political analysis of elite negotiations over religion, state and society in the British colonial period; a history of current Muslim approaches to law, state and identity. The threads of secularism, colonial and Muslim modernities, and the rise of law as a mode of power run throughout, linking critical debates in comparative politics, history, comparative law and Islamic studies – on how state power is constituted and maintained, on the capacity of even weakened local elites to shape political outcomes, on the potential of Islam to undergird and undermine political authority.

This talk is part of the Centre of South Asian Studies Seminars series.

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