Performing Law, Staging History: The (Re)Trial of Bahadur Shah Zafar

Kanika Sharma's picture
Call for Papers
January 6, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, South Asian History / Studies, Law and Legal History, Theatre & Performance History / Studies

This one-day interdisciplinary roundtable aims to bring together academics and practitioners from various fields including law, history, military studies, theatre, visual culture, politics and literature to analyse the Uprising of 1857 and the subsequent trial of the last Mughal Emperor of India at the Red Fort in Delhi. At the roundtable we will seek to interrogate how legal and historical knowledge around the Uprising and trial was/is produced, established, legitimised and potentially subverted, with a special emphasis on the role played by images and theatricality in these processes. 


Papers may speak to (though they need not be limited to) the following themes in relation to the Uprising of 1857 and the subsequent trial of Bahadur Shah Zafar:


  • Law and colonialism;
  • International law and victor’s justice;
  • Performance and the political trial;
  • The use of images and architecture in show trials;
  • Military history in India;
  • Religion, race and nationalism; and
  • Imaginations of the Uprising in popular culture.


This roundtable is the first step in developing an interactive theatre performance around Zafar’s trial. The performance will be accompanied by a visual installation focusing on the Uprising based on rare images from The Alkazi Collection of Photography at The Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, New Delhi.


Funding from SOAS University of London allows us to offer two-days accommodation in New Delhi to a limited number of participants; please let us know if you would like to be considered for this.


Please send a 300-word abstract and a short bio to Kanika Sharma ( by 06 January 2020.



Contact Info: 


Kanika Sharma (SOAS University of London) and Zuleikha Allana (The Alkazi Foundation for the Arts)

Contact Email: