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Bury, Harriet (2006) Geographies, histories, boundaries: The formation of a regional cultural idiom in colonial North India. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The dominant cultural formation which emerged in several areas of public and political life in north India at the beginning of the twentieth century presented itself as a national culture which was able to articulate and represent the vast and disparate interests of the new cultural-political entity of the nation. In fact the concepts, terms and vocabulary of this national culture were derived from a predominantly Vaishanava cultural and religious order propagated by the largely high caste, merchant communities of north India, which itself had been recast and reformulated to negotiate with and encompass the demands of contemporary needs and aspirations. The story begins with the entry of the colonial state into the region as a newly transformed political and administrative power seeking to establish an integrated and effective administration through tax on land. Colonial interventions and classifications, both administrative and intellectual, are also the subject of the second chapter which offers an analysis of early Orientalist and missionary interpretations of Hindu textual sources, emphasising the Aryan and Vedic roots of Hindu civilisation. However, while the relevance of colonial constructions is emphasised, the thesis recognises a dialogic relationship between colonial projects and the initiatives of the colonised which often involved resistance and contestation of state practices. The third chapter explores the transmittance and mediation of knowledge within a new public domain being created by colonial education and print. It traces the emergence of a new type of indigenous intellectual and the role of such figures in the mediation of knowledge through the colonial disciplines of geography and history. History as a discourse of legitimacy used by both the colonial state and indigenous intellectuals served as an important tool for constructing new forms of national identity. The national cultural and religious identity being newly fashioned in the historical writings of the publicist and foremost Hindi intellectual of this era, Bharatendu Harischandra, is the subject of the fourth chapter. Chapter five continues with the issue of identity and explores the self-conscious construction of boundaries between self and other, community and non-community, in the context of regional and pan-Indian travel. The final chapter explores how, by the end of the nineteenth century, language had become the dominant symbol through which a shared cultural and political identity was projected.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:02

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