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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.