Official Discourse

Anindita Mukhopadhyay

in Behind The Mask

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780195680836
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080700 | DOI:
Official Discourse

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The exacting nature of legal legitimacy demanded that Englishmen who ruled India project their public persona in the new hegemony of the rule of law. Yet this new hegemony left many loopholes in the practical, day-to-day functioning of the colonial government, which enabled traditional forms of governance and indigenous hierarchical power structures to retain their hold on local authority. This chapter argues that the rule of law, as introduced by the colonial rule, had cultural implications for civilizational superiority and explores the levels at which the government interfered, and the niches it left undisturbed. It discusses the functioning of criminal courts, the trial of Bahadur Shah Zafar, how the government dealt with the Zamindars, and issues of women's criminality. The indigenous elite took on a specific character in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries due to their interaction with the rule of law, both as an expression of sovereignty and as a language of cultural superiority.

Keywords: colonial government; rule of law; indigenous elite; Indian social groups; cultural superiority; criminal courts; Bahadur Shah Zafar; Zamindars; women's criminality

Chapter.  18824 words. 

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