Elizabeth Lhost

Postdoctoral Fellow, Society of Fellows

Elizabeth Lhost is a historian of modern South Asia and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Dartmouth Society of Fellows. Her current book project, The Office of Islamic Law: Paperwork, Politics, and Possibilities in Modern South Asia (1800–1950), traces the history of Islamic legal practice in British India by focusing on everyday aspects of paperwork and documentation. Drawing upon an archive of Urdu and Persian documents, notebooks, registers, and files she examines the material history of law to understand how ordinary individuals grappled with colonial legal change and navigated the uneven and constantly evolving legal landscape of British India in the course of settling their disputes and resolving legal conundrums. While at Dartmouth, she will also begin working on a second project exploring the relationship between debt and morality in the Indian Ocean world at the turn of the twentieth century. Dr. Lhost's work has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Fulbright program, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Mellon Foundation, among others and has appeared or will appear in Itinerario, the Journal of Islamic Studies, and the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (JESHO).    Dr. Lhost's teaching interests include the history of South Asia, global history, world history, the history of information and information technology, and legal history. Before joining the Society of Fellows, she held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin–Madison where she taught courses in the interdisciplinary undergraduate Legal Studies Program on topics like law and religion in comparative perspective, Islamic law, legal dystopias, and the global histories of inequality. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the American Institute of Pakistan Studies and has recently joined the Internet Law & Policy Foundry as a fellow.


304 Carson Hall
HB 6107


  • Ph.D. University of Chicago
  • M.A. University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • B.A. Northwestern University

Selected Publications

  • "Writing Law at the Edge of Empire: Evidence from the Qazis of Bharuch (1799–1864)." Itinerario, 42(2) (2018): 256-278. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0165115318000347

    "To flower and fructify: Rational religion and the seeds of Islam in Nazir Ahmad's (1830–1912) late-career religious non-fiction." Journal of Islamic Studies (forthcoming), https://doi.org/10.1093/jis/etz032.