Between Faith and State

KCHR Webinar Series 


Between Faith and State

 Colonial Personal Laws in 19th Century Bengal 


Professor Tanika Sarkar

March 04, 2021 (Thursday), 3.00 pm

(Recorded Video of the Webinar



About the Speaker

Professor Tanika Sarkar is a Retired Professor in History from the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU. She is the author of several important works like the Hindu Wife, Hindu Nation: Community, Religion, Cultural Nationalism and Rebels, Wives, Saints: Designing Selves and Nations in Colonial Times. Her work focuses on the intersections of religion, gender, and politics in colonial and postcolonial South Asia, in particular on women and the Hindu Right.



Most scholars have not really looked at the peculiarities of colonial Personal Laws in any detail so far, even though they were substantially different from other legal domains. This talk would be pioneering intervention that describes the structure and conditions within which these laws operated in 19th century Bengal and then underline some of the predicaments that courts faced when they tried to apply them. The talk will conclude with a few episodes of widow immolations in 19th century Bengal in the light of the laws and of the religious controversies that framed them.