Law and Society

The relationship between legal form and social sciences has been rapidly growing in India over the last decade. From the expansion of legal activism that followed the post-Emergency years, we now witness a remarkable coming together of scholars from the humanities, social sciences, and law, destabilizing and opening existing ideas of thinking about legal issues.  These include, on the one hand, scholarship focused on legal concepts and, on the other, the relationship of law to social formations. The large corpus of work over the two decades and more has addressed a variety of issues, ranging from concepts such as equality and secularism to histories of colonial law, feminist engagements with the law, media and law, law and sexualities and legal interventions with respect to land, property, labour, environment etc. This crossover between studies of legal concepts and those focused on the social life of law has allowed for several cross-disciplinary engagements such as research on political modernity and the project of law, the relationship of the legal to non-legal and the paralegal; law and community formations in India etc. It has also resulted in many new collaborative sites: LASSNET conferences on law and social sciences, Centres like CSLG in JNU, and research foci in national law schools in Bangalore, Kolkata, and Bhopal.

The Centre’s initiative on Law and Society draws from these new energies, while staking out its own specific design and list of priorities. It is designed primarily as a research initiative, in that it addresses a community of scholars and promotes new areas of scholarship. It partakes of the insights of critical legal studies as enunciated above and seeks to promote other areas of engagement such as the study of law as a media event and ethnographies of legal practices. The initiative does not engage directly in legal advocacy or legal campaigns, though it does seek to provide a forum for intellectual reflections by practitioners.

The  activities of Law and Society initiative include seminars, reading groups, as well as a themed annual workshop. Members of the Centre’s Faculty as well as visiting scholars participate in these activities.