My research interest lies in examining the legal, economic, and institutional history of South Asia especially during the colonial era. The coming of British rule to South Asia brought forth significant changes to the region’s legal traditions. How did Hindu and Islamic legal traditions change with the coming of the British? What impact did the changes in the interpretation and application of Hindu and Islamic laws have on the Hindus and Muslims of region? How did these changes affect the family law, commercial institutions, and position of women in South Asia? And what were the long term economic consequences of these institutional and legal changes. These are the broad questions through which I conduct some of my research. I will discuss some of the specific areas of my research below.
- Inheritance laws. The inheritance laws of Hinduism and Islam treat family property and capital differently. What were the long term economic consequences of the differences between the Hindu and Islamic inheritance laws? How did Anglo-Indian courts interpret the inheritance laws of the two communities? The practice of inheritance laws varies immensely in South Asia and is subject not only to religious differences but to differences in caste, tradition, and region. Some of my future research will be devoted to examining the differences between the two major “schools” of inheritance law in Hinduism, the Mitakshara and Dayabagha as well as those that exist in parts of southern India.
- Commercial institutions. Hinduism and Islam have a different set of commercial codes. What role did this play in the economic well being of the two the communities? Was there a difference in how Hindus and Muslims reacted to the rise of modern capitalism? Some of my earlier work has discussed the Hindu joint family and the Islamic partnership.
- The late 19th century saw the increasing usage of the waqf (Islamic trust) among South Asia’s Muslim population. How did this impact the access of Muslim entrepreneurs to capital? What was the impact of the this on the economic performance of South Asian Muslims? And how did the greater reliance on waqfs affect Muslim women in the region?
- I am examining how changes in family law affected women and their access to property. How did Anglo-Indian courts interpret Hindu and Islamic inheritance laws in family disputes and particularly in cases where women had a stake in the family property.
- Were the British pro-Hindu or pro-Muslim? I am engaging in a quantitative study to see in Anglo-Indian courts had a bias towards members of one of the two faiths.
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