Mitra Sharafi, “Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947” (Cambridge UP, 2015)

Parsis, also known as Zoroastrians, were deeply entwined with the colonial legal system of British India and Burma, far beyond what one might expect from their relativity small numbers. Mitra Sharafi, in her wonderful new book Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947 (Cambridge University Press, 2014), explores this anomaly and how – as legislators, lawyers, litigants, judges and lobbyists – they managed to maintain the contours of their distinctive ethno-religious community. With fascinating legal cases, lively personalties and a deep discussion of how identity and litigation interact, Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia is a compelling and engaging account of a community with a unique and intriguing relationship with colonial rule.