Mitra Sharafi develops go-to website for South Asian legal history

Mitra Sharafi, a legal historian at the UW Law School, has created a website that will make it easier for historians and legal scholars to find and use South Asian legal sources.

The South Asian Legal History Resources site went live in October.

"For the past few years, I had been corresponding with other scholars about finding and using primary sources from colonial India, particularly case law. The same questions were arising again and again, and I was sending people the same informal reference lists that I had put together," Sharafi said.

"I started the website in order to make this information more easily available. Since its launch, I have heard from scholars, from the editors of law journals in Chennai, from undergrads working on term papers at UW-Eau Claire, and from genealogists tracing their family histories in Britain and India."

The site includes a number of research tools, including:

"The field of South Asian legal history is much less developed than its U.S. counterpart. I hope that this website will help scholars tap into what is a real gold mine of primary source materials, almost all of which remain unexamined," Sharafi said.

In the future, I plan to add a database called 'Temple Trials,' which will list cases on religious trusts among colonial India's many ethno-religious communities. My own research has focused upon the Zoroastrian community, but a huge number of these cases existed among other religious groups, too. They are rich in judicial ethnography, yet almost no work has been done on them. The database should provide a useful starting point for anyone interested in studying law and religion in history."

South Asian Legal History Resources was the subject of a brief write-up on the Legal History Blog, which has since included the site among its Law and History Links.

The site is available here.

Submitted by UW Law School News on January 26, 2011

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