What Constitutes Crime?
Shatam Ray
CRIME THROUGH TIME by Anupama Rao Oxford University Press, 2013, 424 pp., 850
September 2013, volume 37, No 9

In the past few years, India has witnessed a renewed interest in the category of criminal acts ranging from corruption to cases of violence against women. In the light of such debates, Crime Through Time, a collection of writings on crime in the Indian subcontinent covering about 200 years, is topical indeed. As the editors of the anthology point out, the history of crime is also a history of law as well as evolving ideas of justice. Defining what constitutes a criminal act has always been the prerogative of the state and is an important aspect in the exercise of asserting legitimacy and sovereignty. And yet at no point has this function of the state remained uncontested; constant subversion of a disciplinary apparatus through wilful transgressions or everyday practices of the subjects meant to be ordered. The contributors bring to relief the discursive production of crime and the simultaneous institutionalization of the legal system, obscuring its historical genesis.

Continue reading this review