Contents of Volume 7

Articles

Werner Menski, Flying Kites in A Global Sky: New Models of Jurisprudence

Taking a legally pluralist stance which reflects global socio-legal reality, this article first identifies significant mental blockages for legal scholars in theorising legal pluralism. It then argues that a socially responsible approach to law teaching, not only in India, cannot ignore society, culture and competing value systems. If law is everywhere dynamic and internally plural, even if not immediately visible, acknowledging pluralism becomes necessarily a highly dynamic activity, comparable to the challenges of kite flying. One wrong move, and the subtle structure crashes. Unless law teaching takes pluralism seriously, legal education will empower only a few privileged actors, capable to manipulate law and its multiple power-related uses. Socially conscious approaches to law teaching must problematise that while we need law to avoid chaos, everywhere it risks constant exploitation and misappropriation. Improved teaching about legal pluralism and choice making in Indian law schools offers hope, but many challenges remain.

Gina Heathcote, Feminist Politics and The Use of Force: Theorising Feminist Action and Security Council Resolution 1325

This article reflects on the ten-year anniversary of 'Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security' (hereinafter, "Resolution 1325'). The article contextualises the Security Council's approach within feminist legal thinking, using Resolution 1325 as a springboard for increased feminist conversations on the recurrent themes of essentialism, victim feminism and praxis. It is argued that feminist action in the Security Council should extend these debates. To this end, the article concludes with reflection on the possibility of force to save women, arguing that this fourth axis of feminist debate be taken up with some urgency by feminist scholars and activists.

Special Comment

Asghar Ali Engineer, Rights of Women and Muslim Societies

This comment engages with the gap between the Qur'anic pronouncements and Shari'ah requirements pertaining to the treatment of women under Islam. The author historically traces this development from 7th  century Arabia till present and examines issues such as wife beating, the capacity of women as half-witnesses, inheritance, marriage and divorce. In doing so, the comment seeks to dispel the myth that Shari'ah laws are divine and hence immutable. It concludes with an examination of the socio-political context of the codification of personal laws and women’s status in contemporary Muslim world today.

Hans Dembowski and Rüdiger Korff, Stealth Censorship: How the Calcutta High Court is Supressing A Sociological Book on Public Interest Litigation

Ten years ago, Oxford University Press published Hans Dembowski's book 'Taking the State to Court - Public Interest Litigation and the Public Sphere". Shortly afterwards, OUP discontinued international distribution, because the Calcutta High Court initiated contempt of court proceedings against author and publisher. The case has regrettably been kept pending, no judgment was passed. A sociological study that deals with highly relevant issues, including urban planning, governance and the role of the judiciary, the author argues that it is of central importance to academic discussion. In this comment, the author and his academic supervisor develop on this argument and speak of why it does not amount to contempt of court.

Notes From The Field

Atreyee Majumder, Kneejerks and Fresh Starts: A History of Speakers And Authors of Protibaad

"I hadn't seen a michheel in close to a decade. Until yesterday. Middle-aged Writers' Buildings officials, of Congress leanings, protested the attacks on Congress leaders in Burdwan saying that it was possible due to police apathy and negligence. There were hardly any banners, mostly slogans. Even as some tyres are deflated and buses burnt down in the heart of South Calcutta. The Congress is back with a bang, say the newspapers. These attacks have reinvigorated our workers. A Congress leader is quoted. A feeble identity that was getting increasingly engulfed by the grassroot diva of the state is now fed fodder. The good old pellet of political energy is back in fashion. The burning of the bus."

Uzramma, Learning From The Grassroots

"When I visited villages in Adilabad, I learnt that the Indian samaaj was very different from what I had learnt about Indian society through a Westernised education. I learnt that the larger part of rural Indian society is made up of' closely inter-connected producer communities, who though they do not socialise with each other are professionally interdependent. My companions and I learnt about the traditions of village life from Ravindra Sharma of Kala Ashram. We found that Government interventions in local cotton textile production tended to centralize the process and to break traditional relationships among producers. We based our own interventions on our learning."

Book Review

Shylashri Shankar, Anupama Roy's 'Mapping Citizenship in India' (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010)

What does it mean to be a citizen of a country? One notion of citizenship is formal membership in a nation-state. The second notion is the substantive distribution of the rights, meanings, institutions and practices that membership entails to those deemed citizens. One can be a citizen in the formal sense but have varying amounts of power (including powerlessness) to make claims on the State in the substantive sense. Traditional scholarship emphasised the idea that citizenship was inherently egalitarian and had an inherent impetus towards universality. However, more recently, the fact that citizenship is deeply contested and is experienced and unfolds in specific social fields in different political contexts has also become influential in thinking about it.