Dr. Marina Martin

Departmental Coordinator in South Asian Legal History

Main Focus

Marina Martin focuses on the colonial history and legacies of exchanges and encounters between India, Britain, southern Africa and other former Dominions through law, economy and diplomacy. She is currently working on two book projects with overarching themes that examine relationships between the licit and illicit, legitimate and illegitimate, legal and illegal and formal vs informal.

Fruit of her PhD, the first project covers the legal and institutional history of traditional or so-called ‘informal’ credit and mercantile networks in South Asia, specifically the system and instrument known as ‘hundi’ or ‘hawala’. Delving into a little over hundred years from 1858, this work looks at the way in which the British Indian legal architecture intersected with hundi. Marina’s second project continues the theme of legitimate and illegitimate via the movement of people across the British Empire. Here she explores the legal, political and economic conditions that gave rise to the so-called ‘Indian Question’ in South Africa during the British colonial period and beyond. Her third initiative builds on the South African project to investigate how South African issues permeated neighbouring territories and influenced the creation of British colonial immigration laws in Northern Rhodesia (modern-day Zambia).

Research Interests

  • Connected colonial history of India, Britain and southern Africa
  • The creation of immigration and related laws across Empire during the British colonial period.
  • The foreign relations of India with Britain and its Dominions, particularly over legislative matters relating to Dominion status.
  • Common law transfer to India during the British colonial period through the prism of the indigenous or so-called ‘informal’ credit system known as ‘Hundi/Hawala’.
  • Norms, laws, customs and practices of exchange which characterised
    negotiable instruments such as hundi (as a bill of exchange) in South Asia.
  • Modern institutional and legal history of economic institutions and contract in trade.

Curriculum Vitae

Marina Martin originally hails from London. She received her PhD in Economic History in 2012 from the London School of Economics, and holds an MSc in International Politics from SOAS, as well as a BA (Hons) in German (majoring in political theory) from King’s College London. Between 2015 and 2019, she was a Research Fellow with an interdisciplinary research institute (CRC 1095) at Goethe University, Frankfurt. Prior to this, she took up a Mellon funded Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with the Human Economy Programme (headed by Keith Hart and John Sharp) at the University of Pretoria in South Africa (2013-2015). She also held a Visiting Fellowship at LSE’s Asia Research Centre (2012-2013), and a Postgraduate Fellowship and Lectureship at Yale University’s MacMillan Centre for International and Area Studies (2009-2010). Marina has worked as a Broadcast Journalist and then as a consultant carrying out research and policy analysis for government, think tanks and the corporate sector, before returning to academia.

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