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Date(s) - 03/11/2023
12:00 am

Seminar Hall


In the Cause of Literature and Science: Learned Societies in Colonial India

Research questions and scholarly background

Production of knowledge in colonial India is a well-studied field. A perusal of recent surveys of the field impresses upon the reader the importance of knowledge as a category to analyze the colonial condition.1 Broadly speaking, we come across two kinds of positions. One set of scholars argue that the practice of colonial domination was not confined to the exercise of military power. It consisted of a pedagogical,subjectivity-formation aspect as well. Colonial regimes instituted and presided over elaborate projects to produce knowledge about the colonized people—the census, the public health campaigns, geographic and archaeological surveys etc. Gradually, the colonized learnt to interpret their world through the forms and categories which these projects produced. In other words, new colonized forms of subjectivities were fashioned, and ‘colonial ideas about India’ turned into ‘lived realities for ordinary Indians’.2 This line of enquiry also opened up opportunities to explore the manner in which the colonized people offered resistance, and produced ruptures in these colonial exercises of domination. Another set of scholars argue for a correction in the position just described. They do not contest the insight that colonial projects of knowledge production played a significant role in the formation of new subjectivities………(Read More)