Centre for Internet & Society

Aparna Balachandran, Rochelle Pinto, and Abhijit Bhattacharya announce the launch of Public Juris, an online archive of legal resources.

We are pleased to announce the launch of Public Juris, an online archive of legal sources and would like to elicit the active participation of the scholarly community in conceptualizing and building Public Juris as a site where we are able to provide access to material needed for law and social science research in South Asia. We would very much appreciate feedback, support and collaboration as we develop this project.

Who we are
: We are two historians (Rochelle Pinto and Aparna Balachandran, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore) and an archivist (Abhijit Bhattacharya, Centre for the Study of Social Sciences, Kolkata) who are interested in issues of technology, users and access in relation to state and private archives in India (see blog).

The Project
:  We are soliciting contributions for an online digital archive of legal sources called  “Public Juris”  focusing on,  but not limited to, South Asia. We hope this archive will be a useful and easily accessible resource for historians and other scholars interested in the study of different aspects of the law. We see this archive as particularly useful to students and teachers in South Asia and elsewhere who for logistical, economic or political reasons may not be able to travel to libraries and archives in order to access material of this kind. Eventually, we envisage that an online archive of this kind will allow students to broaden the thematic and regional range of their research.

How it will work: We do not have any strict definition of what constitute legal sources — they could range from acts and regulations to court cases, police records and petitions. For example, one set of records that has already been contributed to the archive centres on disputes over ceremonial privileges between the Valangi and Idangai castes in the city of Madras in the early nineteenth century. Documents that are not usually archived, such as leaflets, pamphlets, people’s enquiry reports, photographs, and advertisements, but which are critical to understanding the relationship between law and the public, can also find a space here. The material could be in any language.

As a community of scholars we are in possession of resources that can be harnessed usefully and inexpensively. All of us, for instance, have material collected from different locations that we have already used for our research or which is simply superfluous. This research could be shared. Since the archive inevitably leaves different traces for specific readings by different researchers, our research material could be put to other uses in other works. Hence, just as the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance has asked for your writings for their library, we would like to extend our request for collaborative energies within the LASS community to contribute to constructing a shared resource. Please do claim authorship of this archive by sharing with us material that you think should define and belongs in Public Juris.

Modalities: If you would like to contribute to this online archive, we request you to either bring the material with you when you attend the inaugural LASSNET conference in January, or if you prefer, send it by post to the Centre for Internet and Society (Centre for Internet and Society, No. D2, 3rd Floor, Sheriff Chambers, 14, Cunningham Road, Bangalore, Karnataka 560052, India). We will undertake to scan the material and make it available on the Public Juris website which is in the process of being constructed and designed. We will acknowledge the contributor on the website, unless specifically asked not to do so. We will also make sure that once scanned, the material will be sent back to the contributor

If you have any questions about this initiative, please do contact [email protected] or [email protected]. If you would like to contribute to the archive, please do contact us and let us know what kind of materials you would be willing to provide. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Aparna Balachandran, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society
Rochelle Pinto, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society
Abhijit Bhattacharya, Centre for the Study of Social Sciences

In conversation with

Pratiksha Baxi, Anchor, LASS

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