Mitra Sharafi

Associate Professor of Law

Telephone: 608-265-8428
Office: Room 6112 - 2015-16 Office Hours: Tuesdays 3:30-5pm, Law School

PhD (History), Princeton University (2006)
BCL (Law), Oxford University (1999)
BA (Law), Cambridge University (1998)
BA (History), McGill University (1996)

Recently Taught Courses
711 Contracts


Mitra Sharafi is a legal historian of South Asia. She holds law degrees from Cambridge and Oxford (the UK equivalent of a JD and LLM) and a doctorate in history from Princeton. Sharafi's book, Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947 (Cambridge University Press, 2014) won the Law and Society Association's J. Willard Hurst Prize for socio-legal history in 2015. The book explores the legal culture of the Parsis or Zoroastrians of British India, an ethno-religious minority that was unusually invested in colonial law:

Currently, Sharafi is at work on her second book project, a study of medical jurisprudence in colonial India that focuses on the role of medico-legal experts like the Chemical Examiners and Imperial Serologist. She is also writing a survey of the field of South Asian legal history, a study of Indian and West African members of London's Inns of Court during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and a medico-legal history of abortion during the Raj. Sharafi's research has been recognized and supported by the Institute for Advanced Study, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and others.

Her research interests include South Asian legal history; the history of the legal profession; the history of colonialism; the history of contract law; law and religion; law and minorities; legal consciousness; legal pluralism; and the history of science and medicine.

At the UW Law School, Sharafi teaches Contracts I to first-year law students. She is also part of UW's Legal Studies program, an interdisciplinary undergraduate major that combines law with the humanities and social sciences. Sharafi has taught four Legal Studies courses: "Legal Pluralism," "Lawyers & Judges in the British Empire," "Law and Colonialism" and  "Medico-Legal History": She is affiliated with the History Department, and is involved with the UW Center for South Asia.

Since 2010, Sharafi's South Asian Legal History Resources website has shared research guides and other tools for the historical study of law in South Asia. Follow her blogposts at and on Twitter @mjsharafi

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