ANR Programme 2009-2013
image of courtroom
A Joint Programme on Justice and Governance in India and South Asia
(Hosted by Centre for Himalayan Studies)


Governance and Justice in South Asia: for an anthropology of judiciary cases

discussing a case in Shimla's district courtNumerous cases are registered every year in Courts at different levels, as well as in state sponsored or non-state village Courts. The study will follow two complementary approaches:

  • entering into the details of verbal exchanges, of judiciary interactions and of power relationships which are displayed during the trial. The objective is to study how governance is concretely implemented in the local society, through the everyday practice of justice and its formalized proceedings.
  • discussing together, Mandi district Court

  • following the judiciary story of cases by relying on court records, on newspapers articles and on the collection of narratives from those who have been involved. While the study of legal documents will allow reconstructing the legal reasoning of the case, people narratives and discourses will provide the contextual story where the multiple points of view of the parties are embedded in social dynamics of solidarity or conflict.

This approach to governance via in-depth studies of court cases in all their multifaceted and socially contextualised complexity has not yet been systematically applied in South Asia. The project has thus a twofold ambition, i.e. improving our understanding of institutions in South Asia, and developing a reflection on methodological issues.

The project gathers some twenty seven scholars from different countries, all of them specialists of South Asia.