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

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Legal Cultures of Mughal India

Paper, Performance, and the State: Social Change and Political Culture in Mughal India by Farhat Hasan, Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2021; pp xvi + 154, price not available.

Negotiating Mughal Law: A Family of Landlords across Three Indian Empires by Nandini Chatterjee, Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2020; pp xii + 298, price not available.

Cultures of law and jurisprudence in precolonial South Asia have been understudied and poorly understood. The books under review complement each other and are welcome effort in doing away with this state of affairs. Needless to say, they also further our knowledge of Mughal India by examining allied themes of property, bureaucracy and record-keeping, the public sphere in medieval India, notions of family, the political, administrative and cultural evolution of district-level formations during regime change, satirical poetry, the prestige of Persian, and so on. The trend of looking away from a centralised Mughal imperial structure of politics and administration that began in the early 1990s continues to find echo in Farhat Hasan and Nandini Chatterjee’s output. Hasan begins his book by saying that his aim is to explore the “state in activity” as opp­osed to “institutional and structural attributes” by looking at “state formation from below” (Hasan, p 1). Chatterjee also voices a similar claim by suggesting that her project is a “micro-history” (Chatterjee, p 224) in which events happening on a small scale at the district level are reflective of similar trends and issues at the wider subcontinental level. 

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Published On : 15th Mar, 2024

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