“Property and Its Rule (in Late Indo-Islamicate and Early Colonial) South Asia: What’s in a Name?” by Faisal Chaudhry, University of Dayton – School of Law; University of Dayton, published in the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient.
This article sets out a framework for understanding two key issues in the history of early modern and modern South Asia. First, it addresses the vexed question of the generaliz- ability of the “Western” concept of property to Indo-Islamicate land systems. Rather than beginning from the idea of ‘Islamic property law/relations’ it proposes that we reconstruct concepts relating to the control of the earth’s material substrate in terms of four modes of idiomizing land in the Islamicate tradition. In light of how the latter reconstruction suggests that (Indo-)Islamicate modes of idiomization focused on the produce of land more than land itself, the article then turns to a second issue. This concerns the similarities and differences between the deontic cultures of rights and responsibilities that characterized early modern polities (both in Mughal India and England) and nineteenth-century ones (like metropolitan Britain’s and that emerging from the East India Company’s so-called rule of property in the subcontinent).