Fear of the False in Colonial South Asia
MPI-TAU Transnational Legal History Workshop
- Date: Nov 22, 2022
- Time: 07:00 PM - 08:30 PM (Local Time Germany)
- Speaker: Mitra Sharafi (University of Wisconsin)
- Location: Zoom
- Host: Thomas Duve (MPI), Ron Harris (TAU), Assaf Likhovski (TAU), Stefan Vogenauer (MPI)
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the government of British India created a wave of institutions for the scientific detection of crime. Falsity was a special preoccupation of colonial officials, who were invested in the stereotype of the “mendacious native.” Driven by deception anxiety, the new South Asian forensics focused on finding the fake. The plan was to sidestep the problems of perjury and forgery in the courtroom by relying on scientific testing and experts. Forensic experts tried to detect falsity from without, namely evidence like animal blood and poison planted by colonized tricksters trying to frame rivals. But the processes put in place during India’s forensic century enabled new forms of falsity from within, including a rule of criminal procedure that allowed a privileged group of lab experts to submit written evidence without being cross-examined in court. This paper is the draft introduction of a book project entitled “Fear of the False: Criminal Law and Forensic Science in Colonial South Asia.
All sessions of the MPI-TAU Transnational Legal History Workshop will be conducted on Zoom, and are based on pre-circulated papers. Registration for participation is required and open until one week prior to the event. Please register here.