Victoria Colloquium: January 31 2020

Speaker: Mitra Sharafi, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Title: “South Asians and West Africans at the Inns of Court: Empire and Expulsion circa 1900”

Seminar time/location: 2:30pm; Fraser building, room 152



Between the 1860s and 1950s, thousands of non-European students from across the British empire studied at the Inns of Court in London to become barristers. Using the disbarment files of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, this paper explores the experience of being a colonial lawyer or law student in the British empire at the turn of the twentieth century. It focuses on three disciplinary cases involving South Asians or West Africans: A. K. Ghose and his fraudulent “spirit letters,” anti-imperial revolutionary Shyamji Krishnavarma, and O. R. Aladé following a criminal conviction. These three cases occurred in the relatively early days of the flow of South Asian and West African students to the Inns. They reflected the imperial legal profession’s views of racial difference; truthfulness, deception, good character, and loyalty to British rule; and the definition of terrorism and the legitimacy of using violence to resist tyranny. The paper is part of a larger book project on non-Europeans at the Inns of Court.

The Victoria Colloquium Page