ANR    CNRS
ANR Programme 2009-2012
(ANR-08-GOUV-064)
image of courtroom
JUST-INDIA
A Joint Programme on Justice and Governance in India and South Asia
(Hosted by Centre for Himalayan Studies)

Related: Animal Sacrifice on Trial: Cases from South Asia

Starting June 7, 2015 - Ending June 7, 2026

By examining judiciary files, court decisions, newspaper articles, and by relying on informal conversations with the protagonists, we will explore how the question of animal sacrifice is dealt with through judiciary practice. In this context, animal sacrifice becomes an ‘object of law’ which has to be evaluated and regulated not by ritual specialists but by legal professionals.

Animal Sacrifice on Trial: Cases from South Asia
Monday 22nd June 2015, 9.30 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.
Room 638-640, 6th floor,190 avenue de France, Paris 13

This is the first of a set of three workshops related to the project Taking Nature to the Court: Development projects, protected areas and religious reform in South Asia. The project follows up an idea initially developed in the ANR programme Justice and Governance in Contemporary India and South Asia (“Just-India”) according to which the study of court cases might help our understanding of crucial social and political stakes. In this new project we focus on how certain issues related to nature and the environment, and which also involve ritual practices or religious notions, are brought before the court and how they take on a legal expression.

This first workshop deals with the abolition of animal sacrifice. Historically, this issue has differed from one state to another in India, and compared to Nepal. In some states of India this practice has been governed by law for many years; in others it was recently abolished by the court; or, as in Nepal, it is now the object of a petition put forward by animal welfare activists. Although some arguments behind these reforms may be similar and may refer to moral, ethic, or legal concepts (non-violence, ‘compassion’, ‘animal rights’, prohibition of all ‘cruelty’, ‘fundamental duties’, ideals of progress and modernity, standards of hygiene), some aspects of this debate are more specific to a particular region and depend on the individual actors – various kinds of petitioners, politicians, lawyers, judges. The aim of the workshop is to explore, through case-studies, the background to these different stories. By examining judiciary files, court decisions, newspaper articles, and by relying on informal conversations with the protagonists, we will explore how the question of animal sacrifice is dealt with through judiciary practice. In this context, animal sacrifice becomes an ‘object of law’ which has to be evaluated and regulated not by ritual specialists but by legal professionals. These legal experts are called upon to translate ritual procedures into legal categories, to define the religious or secular nature of a particular concept, or to separate what is ‘essential’ in religion (in which the state cannot interfere) from what is susceptible to being handled by the court. We will also consider the arguments put forward by those who disagree with these reforms and the plurality of the forms and narratives that their ‘resistance’ may take.

Programme - Link to Abstracts

  • 9.30 am: Coffee and Welcome
  • 10.00 am – 12.30 pm
    • Anthony Good (University of Edinburgh): Sacrifice and the Law in Tamil Nadu, South India.
      Discussant : Yves Goudineau (EFEO)
    • Daniela Berti (CNRS, CEH): ‘Live and let live’. Conflict of Values and Political Stakes in Himachal Pradesh, North India
      Discussant: Denis Vidal (IRD, URMIS)
  • 2.00 pm – 4.30 pm
    • Deonnie Moodie (University of Oklahoma): Blood, Power, and Public Interest at a Hindu Temple in Kolkata
      Discussant: Raphaël Voix (CNRS, CEIAS)
    • Chiara Letizia (UQAM, Montreal) and Blandine Ripert (CNRS, CEIAS): Preliminary remarks on a PIL filed against animal sacrifice at Gadhimai Mela, Nepal
      Discussant: Gérard Toffin (CNRS, CEH)

Contacts: Daniela Berti (dberti@vjf.cnrs.fr), Blandine Ripert (blandine.ripert@ehess.fr), Joëlle Smadja (jsmadja@vjf.cnrs.fr), Raphaël Voix (raphael.voix@gmail.com)