An Imperial Genealogy of Minority as a Legal Category: The Making of a Crisis of Citizenship in South Asia
There is a widely perceived and ongoing “citizenship crisis” in contemporary India, as the Indian Supreme Court’s authorization of a massive citizenship status verification process (NRC) in the state of Assam threatens to render stateless several million people, especially those belonging to religious and ethnic minority groups. At the same time, the Indian Citizenship Amendment Act (2019) provides expedited access to citizenship to members of select religious minority groups from neighboring states. Critical commentators have identified a double-standard in the invocation of the legal category of minority in these processes: While in the first instance, minority is a marker of a “lesser” citizenship status to which the state owes only limited, or no, obligations, in the second, it is a marker of a subject of rights protection notwithstanding a lack of formal status vis-à-vis the state.
In this talk, Dr. Adil Hasan Khan situated these treatments of minorities in the mid-19th century British imperial regimes of indirect rule, on one hand, and capitulations, on the other, to suggest that the approaches are less contradictory than they might seem. By illuminating the intimate historical relationship between the phenomenon of statelessness and the institution of and protection for minority’s, he aims to move beyond a critique of double-standards.
Dr. Adil Hasan Khan is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Laureate Research Program on Global Corporations and International Law at the Melbourne Law School in Australia. He is currently a Visitor at the School of Social Studies in the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton. His research covers topics in the fields of human rights, international legal histories, international law and colonialism, and Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL).