Law, Tradition, and Power in Modern India

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 - 5:30pm

The Republic of India is the world’s largest democracy and its most populous country. It possesses the world’s longest written constitution, one that forbids discrimination on the basis of religion, race, sex, and place of birth, guarantees equal pay for men and women, and upholds the right to choose one’s occupation. Yet many of India’s 1.4 billion people, especially those in the remote rural areas, must contend with centuries-old traditions and village politics that challenge the enjoyment of their legal rights and protections as citizens. They often exist in extreme poverty and endure caste and gender discrimination and religious sectarianism from which protection by the law and courts can seem distant or unattainable.

This presentation examines the complex relationship between law and tradition in India from the later years of British colonial rule, through the struggle for independence, the early decades of the Republic, to the present day.  Much of what is covered will be directly relevant to themes in Thrity Umrigar’s novel Honor.

TVCTV will film the event for livestream and later viewing. It will be broadcast live on TVCTV television channels as well as on the Library's YouTube channel

For more information contact Nancy Niland at or (503) 675-2538

David Campion is the Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Associate Professor of History at Lewis & Clark College in Portland where he has taught since 2002. He received his BA in history and English from Georgetown University and his MA and PhD in history from the University of Virginia. His research interests include Modern Britain and Ireland, the British Empire, and Modern South Asia. He has published on such topics as colonial policing in India, Irish nationalism, and decolonization in the British Empire. He has lectured and taught courses at universities in the United States, Britain, Ireland, India, Hong Kong, and Macau.

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