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Dr. Alastair McClure

Assistant Professor Alastair McClure

Chief Examiner


BA, MA, Cardiff University, PhD Cantab


Email Address

Office: 10.38


Research Projects | Publications | Courses


Dr Alastair McClure is a historian of modern South Asia and the British Empire. His research focuses largely on the relationship between violence, law and sovereignty in the context of nineteenth and twentieth century India and the Indian Ocean world. His current publications tackle components of this wider question through the history of royal amnesty and corporal punishment. Before joining the University of Hong Kong, Dr McClure completed fellowships at McGill University and the University of Chicago. His research has been supported by grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.




Current Research Projects


Currently Dr McClure is working on his first book project which examines the history of criminal law in colonial India from 1857-1922. This focuses on the underlying tension between the colonial state’s reliance on arguments of exceptionalism and force on one hand, and due process within a codified universal legal regime on the other. Individual chapters explore the codification of criminal law in India, judicial discretion in murder trials, the introduction of legislation for corporal punishment, forgiveness and mercy, the reinstatement of sedition laws, and the trials of Indian nationalists such as Mahatma Gandhi.

Dr McClure's second project will examine deportation and repatriation in the Indian Ocean. Framed around the question of who could be moved, and where they could be moved to, this project draws on legal cases thrown up from subaltern actors at the social and geographic peripheries of empire.








'Fleet-Footed Performers at the Edges of Colonial Law: Jack Johnson, Maud Allan and the Struggles of Cinema Censorship in British India', Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, (Forthcoming)


'Archaic Sovereignty and Colonial Law: The Reintroduction of Corporal Punishment in Colonial India, 1864-1909', Modern Asian Studies, 54:5. (2020).


'Sovereignty, Law and the Politics of Forgiveness in Colonial India', Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 38:3 (Dec, 2018): pp. 385-401.


'Law and Legality in India: New Directions in Indian Legal History: Introduction', Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 38:2 (Dec, 2018): 367-374. Co-written with Saumya Saxena.


'Making and Unmaking the Nation in World History: Introduction', History Compass, 15:1 (2017): pp. 1-9. Co-written with Joseph McQuade and Sophie-Jung Kim.




'State Building and Problematic Geopolitical Spaces in South Asia: The Himalayas and the Extradition Treaty of 1855'. In Transnational Frontiers of Asia and South America since 1800, edited by Jaime Moreno Tejado and Bradley Tatar, pp. 98-110. (New York: Routledge, 2017).




Teaching and Courses Taught


  • HIST1021 Introduction to modern legal history
  • HIST2178 Trials of history: The courtroom from historical perspective
  • HIST2179 Law, empire and world history: From pirates to human rights?
  • HIST3077 Gandhi: A global history