Mitch Fraas

Associate Scholar

20132014 Forum on Violence

Mitch Fraas

SAS Postdoctoral Fellow
History, Penn Library

Representing Violence in Early Colonial Indian Courtrooms

The introduction of British systems of legal procedure into the colonial port cities of Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries necessitated the use of new languages by the residents of those cities in which to narrate their everyday lives. Given the role of law as forum for airing of grievances and seeking restitution or retribution, people from all manner of cultural, religious, and geographic backgrounds appeared in the new British courts to tell stories of violence and harms done to them. What emerged from this experience of law-in-action were a set of often conflicting narratives and translations about violence which quickly became driving tropes of a new hybrid legal culture.