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[Asian Legal History Seminar Series] Family, Law, and Politics in Asian Legal History: Book Discussion

April 12 @ 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm

[Asian Legal History Seminar Series] Family, Law, and Politics in Asian Legal History: Book Discussion

Speakers: Saumya Saxena (O.P. Jindal Global University), Mara Yue Du (Cornell University)

Respondent: Michael Ng, Alastair McClure

Divorce and Democracy: A History of Personal Law in Post-Independence India

This book captures the Indian state’s difficult dialogue with divorce, mediated largely through religion. By mapping the trajectories of marriage and divorce laws of Hindu, Muslim, and Christian communities in post-colonial India, it explores the dynamic interplay between law, religion, family, minority rights and gender in Indian politics. It demonstrates that the binary frameworks of the private-public divide, individuals versus group rights, and universal rights versus legal pluralism collapse before the peculiarities of religious personal law. Historicizing the legislative and judicial response to decades of public debates and activism on the question of personal law, it suggests that the sustained negotiations over family life within and across the legal landscape provoked a unique and deeply contextual evolution of both, secularism and religion in India’s constitutional order. Personal law, therefore, played a key role in defining the place of religion and determining the content of secularism in India’s democracy.

State and Family in China

In Imperial China, the idea of filial piety not only shaped family relations but was also the official ideology by which Qing China was governed. In State and Family in China, Yue Du examines the relationship between politics and intergenerational family relations in China from the Qing period to 1949, focusing on changes in family law, parent-child relationships, and the changing nature of the Chinese state during this period. This book highlights how the Qing dynasty treated the state-sponsored parent-child hierarchy as the axis around which Chinese family and political power relations were constructed and maintained. It shows how following the fall of the Qing in 1911, reform of filial piety law in the Republic of China became the basis of state-directed family reform, playing a central role in China’s transition from empire to nation-state.


April 12
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Categories:
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Online Event


The University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law
Department of History, HKU