Karwaan: The Heritage Exploration Initiative proudly unveils the shortlist for the 2023 edition of The Karwaan Book Awards recognizing outstanding contributions to historical research. The esteemed shortlisted authors are Sudeshna Guha for ‘A History of India through 75 Objects’ (Hachette India), Elizabeth Lhost for ‘Everyday Islamic Law and the Making of Modern South Asia’ (University of North Carolina Press, 2022), and Akshaya Mukul for ‘Writer Rebel Soldier Lover: The Many Lives of Agyeya’ (Penguin Random House India). The winner of the 2023 Karwaan Book Award is "Everyday Islamic Law and the Making of Modern South Asia" by Elizabeth Lhost, published by the University of North Carolina Press.
The Karwaan Book Award is more than a celebration of intellectual excellence; it is a testament to the power of historical inquiry and the indomitable spirit of preserving our shared history. These shortlisted works exemplify the dedication of authors and their commitment to unravelling the intricacies of our past.
Jury Citation for Everyday Islamic Law and the Making of Modern South Asia by Elizabeth Lhost
It is a landmark study of the legal process in colonial India, but it has wider historiographical implications that promise to deepen and reshape our understanding of the state-society interactions in British India, and the social communication that was so crucial to the making of modern South Asia. Focusing on the routine legal encounters, the work draws our attention to the significance of non-state actors in shaping the legal arena in the 19th and 20th centuries. In doing so, Lhost makes a strong argument in favor of legal pluralism, and through an exploration of the everyday lives of Muslim litigants, presents the legal process as constituted and reproduced by the interaction of the evolving legal arena with the colonial judicial system. The author has explored an unusually rich archive that is removed from, but in conversation, with the state in modern South Asia. Looking at the dispersed rulings of the Muslim clerics on matters of inheritance, marriage, divorce and maintenance, and the religious rulings/opinions or fatwas issued by Muslim scholars and divines, Lhost visualizes law as a process, not a ‘structure’, one that can be better apprehended by shifting the focus away from the state to the messy localities, away from the British courts to the routine, everyday legal encounters of ordinary litigants in the towns and qasbas in 19th-20th centuries. Drawing out a rich archive of vernacular law, she also shows how Islamic law in practice was marked by pluarlity, a definitive legal answer at one moment, did not foreclose competing and contradictory answers in the future, and explains how it continues to exist in multiple and multi-vocal forms.
the Karwaan Book Award
The Karwaan Book Award is presented annually, featuring a citation by the Jury. It is bestowed upon the most outstanding eligible non-fiction works on the history of the Indian subcontinent. The Jury aims to recognize contributions that exemplify the pinnacle of academic excellence while fostering historical understanding among the wider public. Karwaan: The Heritage Exploration Initiative has instituted the 'Karwaan Book Award' with the aim of promoting and acknowledging recent research and publications across various aspects of the histories of the Indian subcontinent.
As Prof. Romila Thapar, Chair of the Shortlist Jury 2022, aptly puts it, "The writing of history has a method which historians observe, and their work is judged by its application. Historians assessing new publications should contribute to strengthening this process."
In 2022, the Karwaan Book Award was presented to The Language of History: Sanskrit Narratives of Muslim Pasts (Audrey Truschke), From Dasarajna to Kuruksetra: Making of a Historical Tradition (Kanad Sinha) and India's First Dictatorship: The Emergency, 1975-77 (Christophe Jaffrelot, Pratinav Anil)
2023 Karwaan Book Award Jury
The Language of History: Sanskrit Narratives of Muslim Pasts
Audrey Trushcke, 2022
Everyday Islamic Law and the Making of Modern South Asia
Elizabeth Lhost, 2023
India's First Dictatorship: The Emergency, 1975-77
Christophe Jaffrelot and Pratinav Anil, 2022
From Dasarajna to Kuruksetra: Making of a Historical Tradition
Kanad Sinha, 2022