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MITRA SHARAFI is Assistant Professor, UW Law School & Legal Studies (with History affiliation) at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Previously, between 2005 and 2007, she was a Research Fellow at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University, U.K.
Mitra was awarded her Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. Her dissertation was on “Bella’s Case: Parsi Identity and the Law in Colonial Rangoon, Bombay and London, 1887-1925,”
Before that, in 1998-9 she received a Bachelor of Civil Law (LLM-equivalent) degree from Oxford University (Magdalen College), Grade: I; Oxford, UK
Mitra has been the recipient of several fellowships and awards, some of the more significant of which are listed here:
· Mellon Fellowship for Assistant Professors, Institute for Advanced Study (School of Historical Studies): She will be in residence at the IAS in Princeton, NJ during the 2011-12 academic year, starting research on her next project on medical jurisprudence in colonial India
· “First Book” Workshop, UW Center for the Humanities: 2010-11 winner among UW junior faculty in the humanities and interpretive social sciences; her book manuscript (“Parsi Legal Culture in British India”) was featured in a one-day faculty workshop with five UW readers, Chris Tomlins (UC-Irvine) and James Oldham (Georgetown), 2 May 2011
· National Science Foundation “Law and Social Sciences” Research Grant: funding for 50%-time project assistant for 12 months, computer equipment, and four months’ archival research expenses in London & Mumbai for book project, $87,212, 1 June 2009-31 May 2011
· South Asia Council’s 2007 Dissertation Award Grand Prize (Canada): for best dissertation relating to South Asia written at a Canadian university or by a Canadian abroad, Cdn $1,000; 2007
Dr Sharafi has a number of publications to her credit. Among them are:
· Book: Colonial Parsis and Law: A Cultural History. Government Fellowship Lectures 2009-2010 (Mumbai: K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, 2010)
· “The Slaves and Slavery of Marie Claire Chabert: Familial Black Slaveholding in Antebellum Louisiana,” Journal of Civil Law Studies 4 (May 2011), 179-208.
· Journal Article: “The Marital Patchwork of Colonial South Asia: Forum Shopping from Britain to Baroda,” Law and History Review 28: 4 (2010), 979-1009
· Journal article: “The Semi-Autonomous Judge in Colonial India: Chivalric Imperialism meets Anglo-Islamic Dower and Divorce Law,” Indian Economic and Social History Review 46:1 (2009): 57-81
· Retrospective article: “Justice in Many Rooms since Galanter: De-romanticizing Legal Pluralism through the Cultural Defense,” Law & Contemporary Problems 71 (spring 2008), 139-46
· Article in edited volume: “Judging Conversion to Zoroastrianism: Behind the Scenes of the Parsi Panchayat Case (1908)” In John R. Hinnells and Alan Williams, ed. Parsis in India and the Diaspora (London: Routledge Curzon, 2007), 159-80.
Dr Sharafi is presently working on an article in the edited volume: “Law in Modern Zoroastrianism” by Michael Stausberg and Yuhan Vevaina, eds., Blackwell Companion to the Study of Zoroastrianism (Malden, MA: Blackwell, forthcoming in 2011-12)
She is also working on a book: Parsi Legal Culture in British India, in the American Society for Legal History book series, Studies in Legal History.
Since its creation in 1865, the Parsi Chief Matrimonial Court (PCMC) has provided the Parsi community with a unique system for the resolution of matrimonial disputes. Under all other bodies of personal law in India, cases are decided by a judge or judges alone. Under Parsi law, it is the delegates of the PCMC who decide these cases. This talk explored the history of the PCMC during its early days in British India. In many ways, the PCMC’s delegate system resembled a type of jury system seen in Anglo-American legal history: the special jury. During the Raj, the PCMC delegate system acted effectively as a civil jury—the only one used in India at the time. This lecture situated the PCMC within the history of the jury in colonial India, and explored the leanings and demographic character of the court up to 1947.
Dr Mitra Sharafi’s book “Colonial Parsis and Law: A Cultural History” was released by Mr Justice S P Bharucha (Retd.), Former Chief Justice of India.
The meeting commenced with a message read out on behalf of Dr Sharafi who was unable to attend the function. Ms. Anita Arenson, speaking on the author’s behalf, recalled the cooperation she had received from the community while researching the subject in Bombay.
Thereafter, Mr Bergis Desai, eminent solicitor, presented a succinct a succinct review of the book, noting the community’s penchant for seeking legal solutions to most problems. He said that the book provided a striking and factual account of the most important legal cases that exercised the Parsi Community at the beginning of the twentieth century.
After releasing the book, Mr Justice S P Bharucha spoke admiringly about the thorough research undertaken by Dr Mitra Sharafi. He was pleased to find this work being made available to the community at this juncture and felt that it would help other researchers in the future.
For further details abolut this book, please visit the 'Publications' section of our website.