Race, Religion and Law in Colonial India

Race, Religion and Law in Colonial India : Trials of an Interracial Family

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How did British rule in India transform persons from lower social classes? Could Indians from such classes rise in the world by marrying Europeans and embracing their religion and customs? This book explores such questions by examining the intriguing story of an interracial family who lived in southern India in the mid-nineteenth century. The family, which consisted of two untouchable brothers, both of whom married Eurasian women, became wealthy as distillers in the local community. A family dispute resulted in a landmark court case, Abraham v. Abraham. Chandra Mallampalli uses this case to examine the lives of those involved, and shows that far from being products of a 'civilizing mission' who embraced the ways of Englishmen, the Abrahams were ultimately - when faced with the strictures of the colonial legal system - obliged to contend with hierarchy and racial difference.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text | 280 pages
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 6 b/w illus. 3 maps
  • 1139181246
  • 9781139181242

Table of contents

Introduction; 1. Remembering family; 2. Embodying 'Dora-hood': the brothers and their business; 3. A crisis of trust: sedition and the sale of arms in Kurnool; 4. Letters from Cambridge; 5. The path to litigation; 6. Litigating gender and race: Charlotte sues at Bellary; 7. Francis appeals: the case for continuity; 8. Choice, identity, and law: the decision of London's Privy Council.show more

Review quote

'Mallampalli has produced a marvelous work of legal ethnography that enriches our historical understanding of the dynamics of interracial marriage and the relationships of religion, race, and social standing. His book speaks to crucial themes of British colonial rule and the texture of the lives of those who lived under its authority.' James Epstein, Victorian Studiesshow more

About Chandra Mallampalli

Chandra Mallampalli is Associate Professor of History at Westmont College. His publications include Christians and Public Life in Colonial South India, 1863-1937 (2004).show more