This workshop seeks to examine the historical layers and contemporary shadowy forms of political sovereignty in modern South Asia. State power and sources of authority in the region have remained uneven across space both during and after the period of British colonial dominance. We seek to foster a conversation about the longer history of divergent ideas and practices of sovereignty across South Asia.
Recent historical and social scientific scholarship has described prevailing configurations and key shifts in South Asian political sovereignty from Mughal imperial fragmentation and expanding East India Company authority; through the advent of Crown Raj and attendant reforms; over decades of nationalist self-assertion and decolonization; and then in postcolonial reconfigurations of relationships between the national center, provinces and localities, and urban spaces. Much of this work has underscored the unevenness and contingency of political sovereignty across space throughout the subcontinent's recent history. Anthropologists and political scientists have demonstrated that long-standing repertoires of authority and sovereign power in various regions and areas across the subcontinent have profoundly shaped their contemporary political imaginations and their social orders.