Indian Indentured Labor, Imperial Citizenship, and the Geography of Legal Pluralism, 1850-1955


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project develops a history of the marriage question for Indian indentured laborers from the 1850s to 1955. Part I develops a historical account of colonial marriage legislation, which validated non-Christian marriage by civil registration, and charts growing nationalist concern at the failure of colonial states to recognize the personal laws of Indian migrants. Part II analyzes the importance of the marriage question for debates on the abolition of indenture, and develops a history of post-indenture marriage laws to the 1950s. The project elucidates a complex geography of legal pluralism in the intersection of personal and territorial laws on the Indian marriage question, and charts the boundary between law and religion effected by the civil registration of Indian marriages.