Proposal preview

Organizing People: Political and Cultural Institutions in Colonial India

Our proposed panel examines the impact of institutions—the formal and informal “rules of the game”—in shaping economic developments in colonial India. The papers in the panel analyze the impact of a wide range of institutional arrangements and actors, from land restrictions to political enfranchisement to community norms.

The setting of colonial India setting is an important one to examine these questions, for several reasons. First, relying on the wealth of statistics collected by the colonial administration, most of the papers of the session use novel data and quantitative methods, which shed new light on the economic history of India.

Second, given that many institutional choices in the colonial period were chosen by the colonial powers rather than the people themselves, the analysis suffers less from the issues of endogenous institutional change than present-day institutions.

Finally, the lessons from these papers are useful for areas beyond India and for India beyond the colonial period.


  • Guilhem Cassan, Université de Namur,,
  • Lakshmi Iyer, Notre Dame University,,

Session members

  • Latika Chaudhary, Naval Postgraduate School,
  • Anand Swamy, Williams College,
  • Gupta Bishnupriya, University of Warwick,
  • Saumitra Jha, Stanford University,
  • Lakshmi Iyer, Notre Dame University,
  • Guilhem Cassan, Université de Namur,
  • Rinchan Mirza, Université de Namur,
  • Dan Keniston, Yale University,
  • T.K. Suramya , IIT Madras,

Proposed discussant(s)

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