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Vol 23 No 3 March/April 2018

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Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947

ISBN13: 9781107047976
Published: April 2014
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £67.00

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This book explores the legal culture of the Parsis, or Zoroastrians, an ethnoreligious community unusually invested in the colonial legal system of British India and Burma. Rather than trying to maintain collective autonomy and integrity by avoiding interaction with the state, the Parsis sank deep into the colonial legal system itself. From the late eighteenth century until India's independence in 1947, they became heavy users of colonial law, acting as lawyers, judges, litigants, lobbyists, and legislators. They de-Anglicized the law that governed them and enshrined in law their own distinctive models of the family and community by two routes: frequent intra-group litigation often managed by Parsi legal professionals in the areas of marriage, inheritance, religious trusts, and libel, and the creation of legislation that would become Parsi personal law. Other South Asian communities also turned to law, but none seems to have done so earlier or in more pronounced ways than the Parsis.

Legal History, Other Jurisdictions , Asia
Part I. Parsi Legal Culture:
1. Using law: colonial Parsis go to court
2. Making law: two patterns

Part II. The Creation of Parsi Personal Law:
3. The limits of English law: the Inheritance Acts
4. Reconfiguring male privilege: the Matrimonial Acts
5. The jury and intra-group control: the Parsi Chief Matrimonial Court

Part III. Beyond Personal Law: '
6. Entrusting the faith: religious trusts and the Parsi legal profession
7. Pure Parsi: libel, race, and group membership
Conclusion: law and identity
Appendix: legislation.