Of Law and Life: Upendra Baxi in Conversation with Arvind Narrain, Lawrence Liang, Sitharamam Kakarala, and Sruti Chaganti
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

One of India’s leading legal scholars, Upendra Baxi’s areas of expertise and writings span the diverse areas of comparative constitutionalism, human rights and its futures, crises of the Indian legal system, and the sociology of Indian law and anthropogenic harm and justice.

In 2008, Professor Baxi spent time in Bangalore with the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS) and the Alternative Law Forum (ALF) and spoke at length to a group of his former students on key issues affecting India and the world. This meeting was tape-recorded, transcribed and went on to become this monograph.

Of Law and Life moves from Baxi’s childhood and student years in Bombay, to his education and political activism in the anti-War movements in Berkeley to his years at Sydney, in Delhi at the Indian Law Institute, and later at the University of South Gujarat and Delhi as Vice-Chancellor.

He talks at length about several landmark interventions, including the open letter to judges on the Mathura rape case, the Bhopal gas tragedy, and his pioneering work on social action litigation in India. Conversational in tone, deeply insightful, and occasionally light-hearted, this is the first book of its kind, covering Upendra Baxi’s remarkable career, highlighting facets of him as teacher, scholar, and activist.

Upendra Baxi is a legal scholar and Emeritus Professor at Warwick University, UK, and Delhi University. He was the Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University as well as the University of South Gujarat, Surat. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2011 by the Government of India.

Arvind Narrain is a Visiting Faculty at the School of Policy and Governance, Azim Premji University and the National Law School of India University.

Lawrence Liang is Professor of Law, Ambedkar University.

Sitharamam Kakarala is Director of School of Policy and Governance, Azim Premji University.

Sruti Chaganti is a practising lawyer in Bangalore. 

List of Plates
List of Abbreviations
From the Series Editors

1. Early Life
Bringing Philosophy to its Source
Impassioned Reading Habits
Women in Enforced Temporary Exile
Family as a ‘School of Morals’
Stories of Deprivation
K. M. Munshi and Other Matters
Love and Justice

2. Learning the Law
Working with Scindia Steam Navigation Company
Government Law College, Bombay
Berkeley: Of Vietnam, Kelsen, and Others
First Visit to Sydney: Stone and the German South West Africa Decision

3. The Indian Law Institute
Authority Does Not Reside in a Mailbox
A Thesis so Strained
The Rule of Law Must Run with the Rule of Life

4. The Australian Interlude
Teaching in Sydney Law School
Experience of ‘Mild’ Racism
Indigenous People’s Jurisprudence
An Incipient Attempt at Public Interest Litigation
Learning to Drive and Becoming a Father
Writing for the Newspapers

5. Learning from the Australian Experience: Indigenous People’s Jurisprudence
Comparative Indigenous People’s Jurisprudence
What Can Indigenous Law Teach Us?
How Can the Same Law that Oppresses Us be Turned against the Oppressors?
Re-enchanting the World
Not Land for Land, but a Running Brook for a Running Brook

6. Love, Suffering, and Justice
Meeting Prema
Link between Biography and Social Text
Funded Thought vs Ab-original Thought
To be Human Means to be Open to the Suffering Other
When Bodily Pain Becomes Social Suffering
Speaking For and With Others

7. Teaching, Activism, and the Imposition of Emergency
Return to Delhi
Teaching in Delhi Law Faculty, Law Centre 2
Challenging a Legislative Expulsion: The First Forensic Victory
Declaration of Emergency
Doing it with Your Hand
Evolutionary Social Change versus Revolutionary Change

8. Emergency, Collective Political Violence, and Balagopal
Emergency as a Form of Commissariat Dictatorship
The Emergency as a Regime of Biopolitics
Emergency as an Assault on Traditions of Humiliation
Feminising the Narrative of Partition
The Foundational Violence of Partition
The Descriptive Register of Violence: When is the Body in Pain?
The Juridical Register of Violence: When is the Infliction of Pain Unjust?
Thinking is a Paired Concept
Lapsarian Violence versus Structural Violence
Making Sense/Making Meaning
A Word on Populism
Between Reformism and Revolutionary Violence: Balagopal’s Thought

9. Marx, Law, and Justice
Experience of Reading Marx
Force of Phrases and Force without Phrases
Idea of Rule of Law
Poulantzas and a Theory of the State
State and Regime
The Scientific Marx and the Activist Marx
Marx and Re-enchanting the World
Why Should We Engage with Marx Today?

10. Constitutionalism, Human Rights Activism, and Their Futures
Essentialising the ‘Human’ in Human Rights
Gandhi and the Indian Constitution
Governance, Legality, and Constitutionalism
Seven Types of Constitutions and Three Forms of Constitutionalism
Invention of C3: Mathura Open Letter
Invention of C3: Social Action Litigation
Blasphemy and Constitutional Love
The Future of Human Rights
Justice without Borders?

11. The Sociology of Indian Law
Indian Legal Theory
Indian Legal Historiography: A History of the Writing of Legal History
Moving Beyond Legal History as Institutional History
Sociology of Indian Law
The Names of History
The Types of History
Law and Technology
Genetic Activism and the Second Open Letter

12. Social Action Litigation, Judicial Accountability, and Bhopal
Teachers, Students, Activists
Responsible and Self-Reflexive Activism
Epistolary and Bibliophilic Litigation
The Phases of SAL: From the Charismatic to the Routine
The Impact of SAL
Judicial Accountability
Civility and Protest
The ‘Deep Mystery’ of Bhopal Settlement?
An Excess of Love

13. Vice-Chancellorship and the Mandal Years
Warwick Activism
Oversleeping is a Crime against Humanity
Feudalism and Academic Power
Emergency Powers
Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna
A Russian Toast
Concluding Thoughts on University Systems

14. Human Rights: Teaching, Education, and Theory
Curricularisation of Human Rights
The Jurisprudence of Human Rights
Pedagogic Experiments
Mimesis and Originality in Human Rights Thinking
Epistemic Humility in Promoting Human Rights Cultures
Against Epistemic Racism
Normative Expectations and the Struggle against Injustice


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