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Newbigin, Eleanor (2009) 'The codification of personal law and secular citizenship: revisiting the history of law reform in late colonial India.' Indian Economic and Social History Review, 46 (1). pp. 83-104.

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Recent debates about personal law and a uniform civil code in India have seen both Hindu and Muslim leaders insist on the ‘religious’ status of Muslim law vis-à-vis a more secular or ‘civil’ Hindu legal system. This article argues that such claims obscure very important similarities in the development and functioning of these legal systems. Tracing the origins of the current debate to late nineteenth and early twentieth-century debates about law reform, it argues that the systems of personal law in operation in India today are the outcome of late colonial attempts by Hindu and Muslim male reformers to alter their legal systems in ways that served their own interests. The ways in which they succeeded in securing these ends were very different; colonial constructions of Hindu and Muslim religious practices, and later partition, shaped the context within which male reformers sought to assert their claims, before the state and their own religious communities. Thus, far from marking an inherent difference between Hindu and Muslim law, claims about the ‘civil’ or ‘religious’ status of the legal systems serve in both cases to underpin particular forms of patriarchal authority and gender inequality.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Centre for Gender Studies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of History
Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of History
ISSN: 00194646
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2014 15:35
Related URLs: http://ier.sage ... 6/1/83.abstract (Publisher URL)

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