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Week 8 Meridian notes

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Department
History
Course Code
HISB31H3
Professor
Neville Panthaki

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1. Castes of Mind by Nicholas Dirks
Nicolas Dirks, an anthropologist and historian of India, examines how knowledge about castes were transformed under colonial rule
he traces the development of historical and anthropological scholarship produced by a series of British officials and Indian intellectuals
from the early 19th century to the middle of the 20th century
in creating this intellectual genealogy, Dirks challenges existing ideas that the caste system was a traditional practice of India, instead, he
argues that the idea of castes was used to create the image of India as a traditional society
by creating knowledge about India’s caste system, British colonial officers were able to justify the continuing existence of colonialism
caste as a phenomenon became an instrument for characterizing Indians as inherently unable to rule themselves
in comparative sociology and in common parlance, caste has become a central figure of speech for India, metonymically indexing it as
fundamentally different from other places, figuratively expressing its essence
a long history of writing had identified caste as the basic form and expression of Indian society
caste has been seen as always there in Indian history, and as one of major reasons why India has no history, or at least no sense of history
caste defines the core of Indian tradition, and caste is today the major threat to Indian modernity, even if we concede that it helped pave
the way for the modern or realize that it has been exacerbated by modern institutions
theories of caste are not only about society but about politics and history as well
essential difference between East and West, between the recent histories of India and Europe, would lie in the “invention” of the modern
nation state in 18th-century Europe, which went hand-in-hand with the construction of a new form of civil society
in India caste, so colonial sociology had it, always resisted political intrusion; it was already a kind of civil society in that it regulated and
represented the private domain, such as it was; but a society based on caste could not be more different from modern Western society, for
caste neither permitted the development of voluntarist or politically malleable social institutions, nor did it work to reinforce the modern
state; indeed, caste actively resisted modern state even more than it did old, for the modern state opposed rather than supported dharma
social identity was importantly political, as too were the contexts in which different units became formed, represented, and mobilized
and politics took on its shape and meaning in relation to local and regional systems of power in which headsmen (of lineages, temples,
villages), gurus (leaders of sects and monasteries), warrior leaders, chiefs, and kings were figures of central importance, with authority
over constituencies that from certain perspectives could look and act like caste groups
the transformations of Indian society under British rule, as also the contemporary concerns of comparative sociology, are the products not
only of a 19th-century orientalism but also of the colonial intervention that actively removed politics from colonial societies
neither British administrators nor orientalists were able to go to India and invent caste through sheer acts of will and rhetorical fancy,
however useful caste was as a social mechanism to assist in the management of an immensely complex society
what orientalism did most successfully in the Indian context was to assert the pre-colonial authority of a specifically colonial form of
power and representation, thereby playing a critical role in disguising the politics of caste
Colin Mackenzie hired and trained a group of Brahman assistants who helped him collect local histories of kingly dynasties, chiefly
families, castes, villages, temples, monasteries, as well as other local traditions and religious and philosophical texts in a variety of Indian
languages on his initiative and with his own resources
Mackenzie also played an important if contradictory role in the rescuing of south India’s pre-colonial historiography
unlike most of his contemporaries he did not disparage or dismiss out of hand Indian historical accounts or sensibilities, nor did he
assume that his Brahman assistants were mere informers, acknowledging frequently and generously the extremely important role played
by his assistants in defining as well as transcribing the sociology of knowledge in pre-colonial peninsular India
caste was the site for detailing a record of the customs of the people, the locus of all important information about Indian society
this information, which the colonial state felt increasingly compelled to collect, organize, and disseminate, would thus become available
for a wide variety of governmental initiatives and activities—relating to “almost every form of executive action”
potential subjectivity of Indian subjects was not suppressed outright but shifted into the cultural logic of reproduction implied by terms
such as custom and tradition, which in India meant “castes
at same time, under colonialism caste became specifically Indian form of civil society, the most critical site for the textualization of social
identity but also for specification of public and private domains, rights and responsibilities of the colonial sate, the legitimating conceits
of social freedom and societal control, and the development of the documentation and certification regimes of the bureaucratic state
it seems clear in the Indian case that the forms of casteism and communalism that continue to work against the imagined community of
the nascent nation state have been imagined as well; however, they have been imagined precisely thorough and within the same historical
mechanisms that in the colonizing nations of Europe and America were far more securely harnessed to the project of state formation
and they have been imagined with such success that when people think of India, they must now insistently be reminded that India’s
postcolonial condition is not its pre-colonial fault
2. The Legacy of the Mutiny by Thomas R. Metcalf
this classic account of 1857 mutiny argues that nature of British rule changed when Indian soldiers revolted against their British superiors
Metcalf links the emergence of liberalism and the ideas of English thinkers and writers John Stuart Mill, Thomas Macaulay, and Jeremy
Bentham to the emergence of a particular type of colonialism in which Indians were seen by liberal Britons to be responsive to self-
improvement, social reform, and education so that they might at some point govern themselves
the violence of the mutiny challenged these liberal ideas, and after 1857, Metcalf argues, colonial ideologies became much more focused
on preserving what many felt were India’s traditional practices
this turn toward tradition, ironically, depended on Britons envisioning Indians as their racial and social superiors
the Viceroy, Lord Canning, though deeply stirred by events of the Mutiny, never succumbed to passions which issued in indiscriminate
vengeance—from the beginning he remained calm and acted with deliberation
in May he severely reprimanded Colvin at Agra for issuing a proclamation which allowed the Meerut mutineers to return unpunished to
their homes, and in the autumn he lamented the “unauthorized act at Delhi” which enabled the King to escape with his life
www.notesolution.com
clearest indicator of the new atmosphere after the mutiny was the value placed upon military power—it was no longer possible to assume
that the Indian people would automatically stand by the Government in its hour of need
most bitter and widespread hostility was reserved for the Muslim community—almost universally they were regarded as the fomenters of
the revolt and its chief beneficiaries; the first sparks of disaffection were kindled among the Hindu sepoys who feared an attack upon their
caste, but the Muslims then fanned the flames of discontent, and placed themselves at the head of the movement, for they saw in these
religious grievances the steppingstone to political power
despite its firm hold over the British mind, this prejudice had remarkably little basis in fact
to large extent, strong British hostility toward the Muslim community appears to have been based upon a priori deductive reasoning—as
the former rulers of Hindustan, the Muslims had, in British eyes, necessarily to place themselves at the head of a movement for the
overthrow of the British Government, and as devotees of a religion which inculcated “fanaticism and ferocity”, they were bound to be
more actively hostile than the followers of the mild and tolerant Hindu faith
the Muslims were not the only sufferers from the tragic events of 1857, for the racial animosities roused by that eventful year long
poisoned the relations between the British and all the Indian peoples; indeed for decades, if not until the end of British rule, fear and
suspicion comprised the glass through which ruler and ruled viewed each other
character of Indian Empire in the last decades of the 19th century was shaped to a very large extent by the events of 1857
3. Selected Poems by Muhammad Iqbal
a poet, philosopher, and politician, Muhammad Iqbal’s (1878 – 1938) thought demonstrates a remarkable range of expression
he lived at a time of sweeping changes in India
in anticipation of the end of British rule in India, Iqbal argued that the predominantly Muslim provinces of the northwest should be
governed independently under an Islamic system, for which reason, he is often called the intellectual father of Pakistan
yet his poetry sought to address a range of concerns, foremost of which was decline of Muslims spiritually, creatively, and intellectually
born in Punjab region of India, Iqbal studied in Lahore (in present-day Pakistan) before journeying to Europe for an advanced education
after receiving a Ph.D. from Munich University, he studied law in London and philosophy at Cambridge University
served in Punjab legislature and became spokesman for All-India Muslim League, which sought to represent voices in independent India
in light of the intense (and often violent) conflicts between Hindus and Muslims that preceded British withdrawal, and the anxiety that
many Muslims felt about their future political status in a predominantly Hindu nation, Iqbal sought to instil in Muslims a sense of the
dynamic and life-affirming potential of their future
much of his poetry speaks to necessity of change, the futility of the prevailing social order, and the creative intelligence of humankind,
and he often alludes to the compatibility of fundamental Islamic principles and the Western intellectual sense of reason
Iqbal lamented state of Muslim affairs in India, and called Muslims to throw off the yoke of useless, life-denying beliefs and philosophies
that mired them in apathy and prevented them from reaching their highest potential
brand of Islamic revivalism stressed understanding of man as God’s vice-regent on earth, and of individual self as foundation of universe
development of self could be achieved by cultivating knowledge of Islam, and by dedicating oneself to uplift of one’s fellow Muslims
Iqbal used well-known images and characters from the worlds of pre-Islamic, Islamic, and Indian history, Sufi mysticism, and Hindu
myth and legend to illustrate his ideas
4. What is True Civilization? by Mohandas K. Gandhi
Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869 – 1948) was born in modest Gujarati family in middle of 19th century and sent at 20 to study law in England,
where he discovered vegetarianism, and work of critics of industrial revolution such as John Ruskin, Thomas Carlyle, and Leo Tolstoy
Hind Swaraj is one of his most important works, book in which he proposed plan for how India would gain independence from British
he wrote it in 1909 on a ten-day trip from England to South Africa, where he had been living for almost 2 decades and had waged
campaigns of civil disobedience on behalf of Indians in Natal against the government in South Africa
it formed basis of his political philosophy of self-reliance and self-control, becoming foundation for his campaigns of nonviolent protest
there were two nationwide campaigns for which Gandhi was best known
o the non-cooperation movement (1920 – 1922) asked Indians to withhold their labour and participation from all colonial
enterprises, while participating in nonviolent actions against the government
o the civil disobedience movement, which followed a decade later (1930 – 1932), asked Indians to withdraw from working for the
colonial government as lawyers, clerks, teachers, doctors and so on; it also called on Indians to live on handmade, locally
produced goods, such as homespun fabrics and homemade salt
the widespread scale of popularity of these protest movements was based on some of the ideas that Gandhi expressed in Hind Swaraj
in a dialogue with an imaginary interlocutor, Gandhi explains how Indians would achieve self-government
Swaraj or self-rule was defined as a 2-step process: (1) demand for an independent government, (2) need to govern and improve oneself
for Gandhi, moral self-improvement, pious reflection, and autonomy from a desire for foreign goods and technologies was necessary if
India was to move beyond its colonized status and become modern
Gandhi was sceptical of the claims that Britain was “civilized” and questioned whether industrialization had brought progress to Indians
5. Gandhism by B. R. Ambedkar
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891 – 1956) was born into the untouchable caste of Mahars in Maharashtra, in western India, and became a
leading nationalist in India’s struggle for independence against British colonialism; he became a spokesperson for the untouchable caste
across India and advocated on their behalf as India began to plan its own constitution after independence
during his long political career in nationalist politics, Ambedkar often found himself at odds with Mohandas K. Gandhi, a leader who felt
that he better represented the political and social rights of the untouchable castes
unlike Gandhi, Ambedkar felt that the political rights of untouchables needed to be constitutionally recognized in order to be protected
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Description
1. Castes of Mind by Nicholas Dirks Nicolas Dirks, an anthropologist and historian of India, examines how knowledge about castes were transformed under colonial rule he traces ththdevelopment of historithl and anthropological scholarship produced by a series of British officials and Indian intellectuals from the early 19tury to the middle of the 20 century in creating this intellectual genealogy, Dirks challenges existing ideas that the caste system was a traditional practice of India, instead, he argues that the idea of castes was used to create the image of India as a traditional society by creating knowledge about Indias caste system, British colonial officers were able to justify the continuing existence of colonialism caste as a phenomenon became an instrument for characterizing Indians as inherently unable to rule themselves in comparative sociology and in common parlance, caste has become a central figure of speech for India, metonymically indexing it as fundamentally different from other places, figuratively expressing its essence a long history of writing had identified caste as the basic form and expression of Indian society caste has been seen as always there in Indian history, and as one of major reasons why India has no history, or at least no sense of history caste defines the core of Indian tradition, and caste is today the major threat to Indian modernity, even if we concede that it helped pave the way for the modern or realize that it has been exacerbated by modern institutions theories of caste are not only about society but about politics and history as well essential difference between East and West, between the recent histories of India and Europe, would lie in the invention of the modern nation state in 18ury Europe, which went hand-in-hand with the construction of a new form of civil society in India caste, so colonial sociology had it, always resisted political intrusion; it was already a kind of civil society in that it regulated and represented the private domain, such as it was; but a society based on caste could not be more different from modern Western society, for caste neither permitted the development of voluntarist or politically malleable social institutions, nor did it work to reinforce the modern state; indeed, caste actively resisted modern state even more than it did old, for the modern state opposed rather than supported dharma social identity was importantly political, as too were the contexts in which different units became formed, represented, and mobilized and politics took on its shape and meaning in relation to local and regional systems of power in which headsmen (of lineages, temples, villages), gurus (leaders of sects and monasteries), warrior leaders, chiefs, and kings were figures of central importance, with authority over constituencies that from certain perspectives could look and act like caste groups the transformations of Indian society under British rule, as also the contemporary concerns of comparative sociology, are the products not only of a 19ntury orientalism but also of the colonial intervention that actively removed politics from colonial societies neither British administrators nor orientalists were able to go to India and invent caste through sheer acts of will and rhetorical fancy, however useful caste was as a social mechanism to assist in the management of an immensely complex society what orientalism did most successfully in the Indian context was to assert the pre-colonial authority of a specifically colonial form of power and representation, thereby playing a critical role in disguising the politics of caste Colin Mackenzie hired and trained a group of Brahman assistants who helped him collect local histories of kingly dynasties, chiefly families, castes, villages, temples, monasteries, as well as other local traditions and religious and philosophical texts in a variety of Indian languages on his initiative and with his own resources Mackenzie also played an important if contradictory role in the rescuing of south Indias pre-colonial historiography unlike most of his contemporaries he did not disparage or dismiss out of hand Indian historical accounts or sensibilities, nor did he assume that his Brahman assistants were mere informers, acknowledging frequently and generously the extremely important role played by his assistants in defining as well as transcribing the sociology of knowledge in pre-colonial peninsular India caste was the site for detailing a record of the customs of the people, the locus of all important information about Indian society this information, which the colonial state felt increasingly compelled to collect, organize, and disseminate, would thus become available for a wide variety of governmental initiatives and activitiesrelating to almost every form of executive action potential subjectivity of Indian subjects was not suppressed outright but shifted into the cultural logic of reproduction implied by terms such as custom and tradition, which in India meant castes at same time, under colonialism caste became specifically Indian form of civil society, the most critical site for the textualization of social identity but also for specification of public and private domains, rights and responsibilities of the colonial sate, the legitimating conceits of social freedom and societal control, and the development of the documentation and certification regimes of the bureaucratic state it seems clear in the Indian case that the forms of casteism and communalism that continue to work against the imagined community of the nascent nation state have been imagined as well; however, they have been imagined precisely thorough and within the same historical mechanisms that in the colonizing nations of Europe and America were far more securely harnessed to the project of state formation and they have been imagined with such success that when people think of India, they must now insistently be reminded that Indias postcolonial condition is not its pre-colonial fault 2. The Legacy of the Mutiny by Thomas R. Metcalf this classic account of 1857 mutiny argues that nature of British rule changed when Indian soldiers revolted against their British superiors Metcalf links the emergence of liberalism and the ideas of English thinkers and writers John Stuart Mill, Thomas Macaulay, and Jeremy Bentham to the emergence of a particular type of colonialism in which Indians were seen by liberal Britons to be responsive to self- improvement, social reform, and education so that they might at some point govern themselves the violence of the mutiny challenged these liberal ideas, and after 1857, Metcalf argues, colonial ideologies became much more focused on preserving what many felt were Indias traditional practices this turn toward tradition, ironically, depended on Britons envisioning Indians as their racial and social superiors the Viceroy, Lord Canning, though deeply stirred by events of the Mutiny, never succumbed to passions which issued in indiscriminate vengeancefrom the beginning he remained calm and acted with deliberation in May he severely reprimanded Colvin at Agra for issuing a proclamation which allowed the Meerut mutineers to return unpunished to their homes, and in the autumn he lamented the unauthorized act at Delhi which enabled the King to escape with his life www.notesolution.com
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