Comparative perspectives on regulating age of consent and child-marriage in the British Empire, 1880 to 1930

Kanika Sharma's picture

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Call for Papers
January 8, 2018
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Women's & Gender History / Studies, South Asian History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Law and Legal History, Social History / Studies

This is a call for proposals for a one-day interdisciplinary conference to be held on 15 June 2018 at SOAS University of London. The conference aims to explore the debates that led to the reform of age of consent laws around the British Empire during the years 1880 to 1930. We are particularly interested in exploring the issues of age of consent and child marriage through interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives in law and history.

Intertwined within these debates are notions of gender, women’s rights, biology, and attempts to understand the native psyche. These compete with tropes of cultural relativism, orientalism, the female victim, and the white man’s burden amongst other concerns. For the purpose of this conference, consent is interpreted widely to include physical and intellectual consent to sexual activities as well as marriage.  The conference aims to bring together the growing number of scholars who are currently working on the histories of age of consent in the British Empire.

Recognising that the development and history of the age of consent debate is transnational, international, and multi-layered one, the conference is conceived of as a starting point for forming an international network of scholars working in the area.


Themes of the conference include but are not limited to:

  • Notions of consent – physical and/or intellectual
  • Age of consent campaigns and national movements
  • Religion / class / region based perspectives on consent
  • Comparative or regional studies on age of consent/marriage
  • Age of consent for males
  • Consent, female body, and nationalism/imperialism


Bursaries might be available for PG students.


Please send a 300-word abstract with a short bio to The deadline is 08 January 2018.

Contact Info: 

Dr Kanika Sharma (SOAS University of London) and Dr Laura Lammasniemi (Anglia Ruskin University)