Event — Book presentation

Frontiers of Law in the British Empire

In this talk, Reeju Ray draws out the main themes and arguments of her book Placing the Frontier in British North East India: Law, Custom, and Knowledge (OUP, 2023)

This talk takes place in the IIAS conference room from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Amsterdam Time (CEST); it will not be streamed or recorded. 

All welcome. Please register. 

The Lecture

In this talk, Reeju Ray will discuss various ways colonial law travelled into the frontiers of the British Empire in India, particularly the northeastern non-British territories. These modes included contractual agreements, regulations, boundary making, jurisdictional disputes, and formulations of custom, authority, and knowledge. Focusing on the nineteenth century, the book further demonstrates the relationship between law and space and  Indigenous place-making. The frontier hills of the British Empire in India examined in this book are in the present-day Indian state of Meghalaya, comprising Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia districts, and Sylhet Division in Bangladesh. During the nineteenth century, colonial governance through law formulated the hills as frontier and its inhabitants as tribal. Law assumed the task of defining both people and land in relation to what was understood as an uncivilized and untamed frontier landscape. Concurrently, law enabled the drive of colonial interests into the northeastern frontier by creating the possibility for enhanced revenue, extraction of resources, and indefinite territorial expansion. The frontier became not only a geographical location but a specific colonial politico-legal space.

The Speaker (author)

Dr Reeju Ray was trained as a historian at Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University. She received her PhD in History from Queen’s University in Canada. She teaches at O.P. Jindal Global University and has previously taught at the University of Toronto, Canada. Ray’s book Placing the Frontier in British North East India: Law, Custom, and Knowledge was published by Oxford University Press in 2023. Currently, Ray is a Visiting Researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Legal History and Legal Theory. Ray is the host and co-producer of a history podcast called Talking Frontiers and co-founder of Jamhoor, a media platform that showcases the work of South Asia-based scholars, artists, and activists. 

Placing the Frontier in British North-East India: Law, Custom, and Knowledge

Publisher: Oxford University Press