To the LASSnet Community,

This is to announce the launch of Public Juris, an online archive of legal


This message is to elicit the active participation of the LASS community

in conceptualising and building Public Juris as a site where we are able

to provide access to material needed for law and social science research

in South Asia. As we see it, this initiative mirrors some of the concerns

outlined in the background note prepared for the LASS Inaugural session in

2009. We would like to bring this initiative to the LASS Inaugural session

as one of the possible collaborations in the future. We would very much

appreciate feedback, support and collaboration as we develop this project.

WHO WE ARE: We are two historians (Rochelle Pinto and Aparna Balachandran, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore) and an archivist (Abhijit Bhattacharya, Centre for the Study of Social
Sciences, Kolkata) who are interested in issues of technology, users and
access in relation to state and private archives in India

THE PROJECT: We are soliciting contributions from LASSNET members for an online digital archive of legal sources called "Public Juris" focusing on, but not limited to South Asia. We hope this archive will be a useful and easily accessible resource for historians and other scholars interested in the study of different aspects of the law. We see this archive as particularly useful to students and teachers in South Asia and elsewhere who for logistical, economic or political reasons may not be able to travel to libraries and archives in order to access material of this kind.

Eventually, we envisage that an online archive of this kind will allow students to broaden the thematic and regional range of their research.

HOW IT WILL WORK: We do not have any strict definition of what constitutes legal sources --- they could range from acts and regulations to court cases, police records and petitions. For example, one set of records that has already been contributed to the archive consists of disputes over
ceremonial privileges between the Valangi and Idangai castes in the city of Madras in the early nineteenth century. Documents that are not usually archived such as leaflets, pamphlets, people's enquiry reports,photographs, and advertisements which are critical to understanding the relationship between law and the public, can also find a space here.

As a community of scholars we are in possession of resources that can be harnessed usefully and inexpensively -- all of us, for instance, have material collected fromdifferent locations that we have already used for our research or which is simply superfluous – this research could be shared. Since the archive inevitably leaves different traces for specific readings by different researchers, our research material could be put to other uses in other works. Hence, just as the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance has asked for your writings for their library, we would like to extend our request for collaborative energies within the LASS community to contribute to constructing a shared resource. Please do claim authorship of this archive by sharing with us material that you think should define and belongs in Public Juris.

MODALITIES: If you would like to contribute to this online archive, we request you to either bring the material with you when you attend the inaugural LASSNET conference in January, or if you prefer, send it by post to the address below. We will undertake to scan the material and make it available on the website which will be constructed at http://cinnamonteal.dogearsetc.com/.

We will acknowledge the contributor on the website, unless asked not to do so. We will also make sure that once scanned, the material will be sent back to the contributor.

If you have any questions about this initiative, please do contact Aparna Balachandran at aparna@cscs.res.in or Rochelle Pinto at rochelle@cscs.res.in.

If you would like to contribute to the archive, please do contact us and let us know what kind of materials you would be willing to provide.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Aparna Balachandran, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society

Rochelle Pinto, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society

Abhijit Bhattacharya, Centre for the Study of Social Sciences