ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

woensdag 3 juni 2020

ARTICLE: Zak LEONARD, "Law of Nations Theory and the Native Sovereignty Debates in Colonial India" Law and History Review LXXXVIIII (2020), No. 2

(image source: CUP)


Abstract:

Beginning in the 1840s, high-ranking officials within the East India Company began a concerted effort to confiscate and annex princely states, citing misrule or a default of blood heirs. In response, metropolitan reformers and their Indian allies orchestrated a sustained legalistic defense of native sovereignty in the public sphere and emerged as vocal opponents of colonial expansionism. Adapting concepts put forth by both law of nations theorists and contemporary jurists, they sought to preserve longstanding treaties and defend the princes' exercise of internal sovereignty. The colonial government's failure to adequately define the basis of its modern “paramountcy” invited such creative maneuvering. Reformist opposition to the annexation of Awadh, the dispossession of the Nawab of the Carnatic, and the confiscation of Mysore demonstrates that international law did not simply function as a Eurocentric tool of subordination, but could also provide a bulwark against colonial depredations.
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