The article examines the relationship between colonialism and international law by focusing on late nineteenth century debates surrounding the sovereignty of the “princely states” of colonial South Asia. The princely states were ruled by indigenous rulers and were not considered to be British territory, but remained subject to British “influence;” as a result, there were numerous controversies over their legal status. During the course of jurisdictional disputes, a variety of interested players - British politicians, colonial officials, international lawyers, rulers and advisors of princely states - engaged in debates over the idea of sovereignty to resolve questions of legal status, the extent of rights and powers, and to construct a political order that supported their interests and aspirations. I focus on legal texts written by British international lawyers and colonial officials as well as material relating to two jurisdictional disputes (one between the state of Travancore and the British Government and another between the state of Baroda and the British Government) to trace two versions of sovereignty that were articulated in late nineteenth century South Asia - unitary and divisible. In doing so, I argue that international law, and the doctrine of sovereignty in particular, became the shared language for participants to debate political problems and a key forum for the negotiation of political power.
Monday, May 25, 2020
Saksena: Jousting Over Jurisdiction: Sovereignty and International Law in Late Nineteenth-Century South Asia
Priyasha Saksena (Univ. of Leeds - Law) has published Jousting Over Jurisdiction: Sovereignty and International Law in Late Nineteenth-Century South Asia (Law and History Review, Vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 409-457, May 2020). Here's the abstract: