Cornell University

This is a past event. Its details are archived for historical purposes.

The contact information may no longer be valid.

Please visit our current events listings to look for similar events by title, location, or venue.

SAP Seminar Series, Violence and the Jurisdiction of "Disturbed Areas": Notes from Colonial India, by Bhavani Raman

Monday, November 19, 2018 at 12:15pm to 1:30pm

Uris Hall, G08

What does the gridding of extraordinary and ordinary jurisdictions entail for understanding the relationship of violence and law?  In an effort to unravel territorial certitude and a unified legal order and its suspension as the foundation of state authority, this paper draws out the history of “disturbed areas” to explore the relationship between frontier thinking and jurisdictional imaginaries. First formalized in the 1830s by the East India Company in India as the selective suspension of ordinary jurisdictions, the jurisdiction of disturbed areas spread rapidly through the British Empire and is widely applied in postcolonial India alongside special jurisdictions such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Yet more than marking a state of exception the ubiquity of ‘disturbed areas’ reveals much about how an uncertain future is imagined legally through temporality and play of exemplary violence across many domains from cartographic boundaries to urban land markets, epidemics, and ecology. I am especially interested in the mimesis between state-sanctioned violence and commercial law and how sovereign justice and violence remade and reimagined by disturbed areas jurisdiction.

Bhavani Raman is Associate Professor of History, University of Toronto. Her research has focused on colonial law, property, scribal and bureaucratic culture. Her publications include a history of paperwork called Document Raj: Writing and Scribes in Early Colonial South India (University of Chicago Press, 2012 and Permanent Black Press, 2015). She is now researching the history of disturbed areas and the constitution of colonial India’s internal frontiers. 


Google Calendar iCal Outlook
Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, South Asia Program, History, Asian Studies




Free Admission

Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Valerie Foster Githinji

Contact Phone


Disability Access Information

Available upon request

Open To


Recent Activity