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SOUTH ASIA: Decolonising Knowledge in the Post-colony

Recent calls to ‘decolonise’ knowledge and social frameworks in post-colonies are in fact a renewal of similar attempts over the last few decades to modernise arcane colonial ideological structures of knowledge, and to adapt colonial institutions to their contemporary contexts. Nowhere is this felt more acutely, consistently, and ironically than in the legal frameworks and penal codes of South Asia’s post-colonial nations: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. While some areas like transgender rights have seen significant strides in some countries in the region, the persistence — and consequent misuse — of several outdated penal codes continue to hinder the realisation of a more equitable society.  

The events in this series, in collaboration with iProbono, are located at the intersection of South Asia’s socio-cultural crystallisation within and around inherited colonial criminal and civil penal codes, and their residual influence in post-colonial nation-states in the region. Academics, activists and practitioners will discuss continuity and change in the use of colonial laws, and explore the rationale of their use in anachronistic contexts.  Individual events will examine if legal reforms and judicial interventions can create an equal, fair and just society. 



Thursday | 20 January 2022 | 3.30pm UK

Across the world, our past has left disturbing, inhumane and cruel histories. Several nations have called for past perpetrators to acknowledge their atrocities and apologise. This 'Tough Talk' asks: should we apologise/ask for apologies for the past, or should we let the past be, and work towards a better future? Do apologies matter? Are they symbolic or are they genuinely meaningful? 

SpeakersTom Bentley (@TomJBentley) is Lecturer in the Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Aberdeen, and is the author of Empires of Remorse: Narratives, Postcolonialism and Apologies for Colonial Atrocity (2016); Claus Leggewie is Ludwig Börne Professor at Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, and has worked on cultures of remembrance, conflicts & historical memory; Ali Riaz is Distinguished Professor in Politics & Government at Illinois State University, and has spoken publicly about an apology from Pakistan to Bangladesh for 1971 (Bangladesh's War of Liberation); Rafiuzzaman Siddiqui is a former Pakistani diplomat who has twice served as Pakistan's High Commissioner in Bangladesh, and has spoken about better relations between Pakistan & BangladeshShalini Sharma is Senior Lecturer in South Asian History at Keele University, and has been closely involved with the demand from the British government to apologise for 1919 (Jallianwala Bagh) in India. 

Chair: Nilanjan Sarkar (@SAsiaLSE) is Deputy Director, LSE South Asia Centre

Click here to register free for this event; the link to the live-stream will be sent to all registered attendees on the day of the event.  



Thursday | 7 October 2021 | 4.30pm UK

This 'Tough Talk' asks: is 'Decolonisation' a 'method'/'school' of historical interpretation, or is it what trained scholars have been doing all along -- examining, analysing & interpreting archives for newer and nuanced narratives that correct current wisdom?

SpeakersCaroline Elkins is Professor of History, Harvard University (@Harvard_History), and author of the acclaimed Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya (2005); Priya Satia (@PriyaSatia) is Raymond A Spruance Professor of International History, Stanford University, and author of Time's Monster: How History Makes History (2020); Kim Wagner (@KimAtiWagner) is Professor of Global and Imperial History, Queen Mary University of London, and author of Amritsar 1919: An Empire of Fear and the Making of a Massacre (2020).  

DiscussantDavid Arnold is Emeritus Professor of History, University of Warwick (@WarwickHistory), and author of Burning the Dead: Hindu Nationhood & the Global Construction of an Indian Tradition (2021).  

ChairNilanjan Sarkar is Deputy Director, LSE South Asia Centre (@SAsiaLSE).

Please click here to watch a recording of the event. 



Date/Time: Wednesday, 21 October/3-5:00pm UK Time

Speakers: Aparna Chandra (@ataparnachandra) is Associate Professor of Law, National Law School of India University, Bangalore; Osama Siddique (@DrOsamaSiddique) is Associate Fellow at the Institute of Development and Economics Alternatives, Lahore, and author of Pakistan’s Experience with Formal Law: An Alien JusticeAritha Wickramasinghe (@aritha) is a lawyer and Equality Director, iProbono.

ModeratorMariam Faruqi is South Asia Regional Director, iProbono.

Chair: Alnoor Bhimani (@AlnoorBhimani) is Director, LSE South Asia Centre.

Please click here to watch a recording of the event.