Sarah Gandee (Leeds), Scouloudi Fellow (6 months)

Law, Mobility and Identity: Reimagining the 'Criminal Tribe' in Postcolonial Punjab, 1918-1982

Sarah Gandee is an AHRC-funded doctoral candidate at the University of Leeds, working under the supervision of Professor William Gould and Dr Jonathan Saha. She previously completed a B.A. in History at the University of Exeter (2009-12) and an M.Phil in Modern South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge (2013-14) where she won the Professor Sir Christopher Bayly Prize for Best Dissertation.

Her research interests lie within South Asian legal history and her doctoral project traces the repeal of the Criminal Tribes Act (enacted 1871, repealed 1952) during India's transition from colonial rule. The existing scholarship tends to treat the Act either as an example of a specifically colonial form of ‘lawfare’ or roots the contemporary marginalisation of India’s 60 million now ‘ex-criminal tribes’ (or ‘denotified communities’) in a colonial legacy. Conversely, this research is situated in the often-overlooked years immediately after India’s independence in 1947. The thesis examines the legal dismantling of the Criminal Tribes Act in relation to the refugee crisis wrought by the Partition of the Subcontinent, the founding of the Constitution and rights of the citizen, and the exigencies of nation-building in the era of decolonisation.

She has presented her research at national and international conferences, including the British Association for South Asian Studies and the American Society for Legal History, and was recently awarded the Comparative Histories of Asia Doctoral Prize Competition from the Institute of Historical Research. She has co-organised large international conferences, smaller workshops, and a yearly seminar series at the University of Leeds. She is currently a postgraduate tutor in the School of History at the University of Leeds and teaches modules on colonial and postcolonial South Asia.