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Centre for the Study of Culture and Society

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Faculty: Sitharamam Kakarala; Sruti Chaganti; Lakshmi Arya

Faculty: Sitharamam Kakarala; Sruti Chaganti; Lakshmi Arya



The Law, Society and Culture Programme is an attempt at expanding and reinvigorating interdisciplinarity in legal studies, with a special emphasis on impacting pedagogic and research practices in institutions of higher education, especially in India.


The CSCS LSCP recognises the significance of law as a professional body of knowledge emphasising the primacy of black letter law, as well as the view of law as primarily a means of providing justice to the disempowered and marginalized. While both these views have contributed to the advancement of law both as a body of professional knowledge as well as a means to advance the cause of social justice, there is still enormous space to engage with law as a crucial source of knowledge to critically reflecting on received knowledges and rethinking disciplinary practices. The LSCP's primary focus thus is to engage with law as an important and unique knowledge resource that helps us rethink and theorise human societies as well as human behaviour and processes.


  1. To contribute to the overall process of interdisciplinarity in legal studies across Asia, especially in South Asia;
  2. To engage with and intervene in the pedagogic practices of law with a view to generating acceptance and legitimacy for interdisciplinary approaches to study and teach law;
  3. To carry forward the research agenda of the law and society movement and contribute to its reinvigoration and expansion especially among the emerging law institutions;
  4. To contribute to setting new research agendas that help rethink and contextualise legal pedagogy in the Indian scenario;
  5. To contribute to the formation of peer groups among researchers, teachers and students to foster sustained spaces of interdisciplinary dialogue;
  6. To generate a public resource for knowledge on law-society culture in India and South Asia;
  7. To collaborate with other institutions, both at the national as well as international levels.

The LSCP actively pursues its objectives and goals through the instrumentality of projectisation of its research. The current Thrust Areas under such projectisation are the following:

I Pedagogy

The LSCP intends to actively engage with curricular interventions both within the conventional professional law teaching institutions as well as the newly emerging social science institutions. Towards achieving this goal, the programme currently offers a course for PhD students on Law, Rights and Culture. This course is also generally cross- listed at the National Law School, Bangalore and is a key pedagogic intervention in helping open out interdisciplinary spaces for research and praxis in the law. It has also evolved a paper on Law and Culture for the M.A. in Cultural Studies (Online) Course.

The LSCP also plans to host an internship programme for undergraduate students in the law and in social sciences interested in interdisciplinary research and teaching.

II. Research

Within research, the main thrust areas are the following:

(i) Asian Constitutionalisms;

(ii) Law and Cultural Diversity;

(iii)Traditions of Indian Legal Thought;

(iv) Law, Psychoanalysis and Sujectivity.

In the area of Asian Constitutionalisms, the ongoing work is around the themes of grassroots constitutionalisms and comparative studies of culture and human rights in Asia.

-Under grassroots constitutionalisms various projects ranging from rethinking liberal state through revisiting the issue of legal subjectivity and citizenship, to ethnographies of justice as demonstrated by the grassroots engagement with law and human rights are being pursued.

-Under the theme of comparative study of culture and human rights a study on the status of human rights interventions in India is underway. Another study of understanding the strengths and limits of rights-based approaches in South and South East Asia is expected to begin soon.

-The Law and Cultural Diversity theme is conceived of as an inter-programmatic project with The Asian Popular. The attempt is to unpack the implications of a national cultural policy as envisaged in the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Diversity of Cultural Expressions 2005 and to ask a series of inter related questions about the nature of the state, the form of the law and the constituents of economic value that constitute the imperatives of the contemporary focus on culture. However, the theme will also focus on issues pertaining to legal pluralisms in an increasingly multicultural global order.

-Law, Psychoanalysis and Subjectivity - An exploratory initiative, the LSCP intends to host a seminar series to think through the idea of legal subjectivity at the interface of law and psychoanalysis.

III. Archive Building

The LSCP is in the process of consolidating and setting up an archive of interdiciplinary work at the interface of law, society and culture that maps diverse areas of research such as civil liberties, religion, constitutionalism and subjectivity. The ongoing work is in progress on the following areas:

  1. Law, Society and Culture
  2. Civil liberties and human rights
  3. Law and Religion
  4. Law, Morality and Sexuality debates
  5. Law/ Psychoanalysis/ Subjectivity


Enculturing Law: New Agendas for Legal Pedagogy (Delhi: Tulika Books, 2008)


  1. Enculturing Law: New Agendas for Legal Pedagogy, 11-13 August 2005, organised in collaboration with the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore and the NLSIU, Bangalore.
  2. Culture and Politics of Intolerance in South and South-East Asia, 20-21 July, 2007, organised in collaboration with Kosmopolis, UvH, Utrecht and Hivos, The Hague.


The LSCP invites researchers and practitioners who are committed to an interdisciplinary engagement with the law to present their work at the Centre. In the last month, the LSCP has hosted talks on


    By Siddharth Narrain, a member of the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore. Siddharth works on issues related to gender and sexuality, media laws and censorship, and judicial decisions related to socio-economic rights. He has worked as a journalist for Frontline Magazine and The Hindu in New Delhi. Link found here Text Powerpoint


    By Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh. Shrimoyee is an independent legal practitioner presently based in Delhi. A large part of her practice involves litigation on issues of gender and sexuality. She was previously associated with the Majlis Law Centre, Mumbai. She graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore in 2003 and has a M.Res (Masters in Research, Law) from Birkbeck College, University of London.


    By Namita Malhotra. Namita is a researcher with the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore and works on an interdisciplinary project on law and media. She is interested in exploring the intersections of law, culture, and new technologies. She has recently created two comic rescensions on copyright and trademark, and has compiled a database on queer readings of popular culture.


    By Ponni Arasu. Paper co-written with Priya Thangarajah. Ponni is a researcher and activist currently working with the Alternative Law Forum, focusing on issues related to gender, sexuality and labour. Priya is a student at National Law School India University and has been involved in research and activism around gender and sexuality in India.


    By Arvind Narrain. Arvind is a human rights activist and lawyer with the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore, of which he is a founder member. He is the author of Queer: Despised Sexuality, Law and Social Change (2004) and co-editor of Because I have a Voice: Queer Politics in India (2005).


    By Mayur Suresh. Mayur, currently a Researcher at the Alternative Law Forum, graduated from the National Law School, Bangalore and has a Master's degree from the Columbia Law School, New York. He has worked as a researcher at the Centre for the Study of Casteism, Communalism and the Law at the National Law School, Sarai/Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, and the Indian Security Workers Organising Council. His present work is in the areas of sexuality, copyright, media law and censorship, and judicial discourse around the idea of the emergency.





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