Legal Nationalism and Ancient Indian Public Law

MPI-TAU Transnational Legal History Workshop

  • Datum: 06.12.2023
  • Uhrzeit: 19:00 - 20:30
  • Vortragende(r): Assaf Likhovski (TAU)
  • Ort: Zoom
  • Gastgeber: Leora Bilsky (TAU), Thomas Duve (MPI), Rachel Friedman (TAU), David Schorr (TAU), Stefan Vogenauer (MPI)
 Legal Nationalism and Ancient Indian Public Law

In 1905, an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, Kautilya’s Arthashastra, was discovered in Mysore in the South of India. This discovery led to the emergence of the Hindu Polity literature: A body of works written during the first three decades of the twentieth century by Indian jurists, historians, and social scientists, mainly associated with the University of Calcutta. The Hindu Polity literature used ancient Indian texts to prove that Western orientalist conceptions of the nature of early Indian states, political theory, and public law were wrong. In this paper, I analyse the biographies and ideas of the authors who contributed to this body of works on the constitutional history of ancient India. I connect this literature to a specific phase in the history of Indian nationalism. I attempt to explain the rise and decline of interest in the topic, and I compare the way Indian scholars viewed and used the ancient Indian texts and the way Western Indologists viewed them.

Assaf Likhovski is the Danielle Rubinstein Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence at Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law. He is the author of two books on Israeli legal history: Law and Identity in Mandate Palestine (2006), and Tax, Law, and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel (2017).

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