Impossible translation: Beyond the legal body in two South Asian family courts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The legal realm translates between litigants' plain-language claims and efficient solutions. In post-colonial courtrooms, there are also some literal translations between vernaculars and formal legal English. Other translations, less literally, involve putting violence and violation into the language of compromise. Through an ethnographic analysis of two Family Courts in Kolkata and Dhaka where litigants directly present their cases to judges, this article argues that the postcolonial (sexed) body is constructed through such translations, while signifying an excess that cannot be captured by legal categories. Sexual consummation and sexual violence appear particularly resistant to seamless translation, and evoke other registers of compensation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-376
Number of pages18
JournalLaw, Culture and the Humanities
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Bangladesh
  • Body
  • Divorce
  • Family law
  • India
  • Language
  • Translation
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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