Readings Class 1: Introductory Class, and British in Colonial India

India colonialism 2 Douglas M. Peers, (1990) “Rediscovering India under the British,” The International History Review, Vol. 12, 3: 548-562.

 

Indian Colonialism 3Amiya Kumar Bagchi, (1988) “Colonialism and the Nature of Capitalist Enterprise in India,” Economic and Political Weekly, PE 38-PE 50.

 

Speech of the ColonizedGloria Goodwin Raheja (1996), “Caste, Colonialism, and the Speech of the Colonized, entextualization and disciplinary control in India,” American Ethnologist, Vol. 23, 3: 494-513.

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37 Responses to Readings Class 1: Introductory Class, and British in Colonial India

  1. Andrea says:

    Douglas M. Peers, (1990) “Rediscovering India under the British,” The International History Review, Vol. 12, 3: 548-562.
    This book review resonates with me because it emphasizes the role perspective plays in historical writings. I often read histories told from various perspectives without giving critical thought to the motivations of the writings. Peers did a good job of explaining the content of the five books while also pointing out the deficiencies of the writings that resulted from different perspectives.
    From the readings, I came to the realization that rule/oppression can be characterized by omission.Omission that might be on purpose or because the ruler/oppressor cannot always see beyond their given situation.

    • Dylan P. says:

      I agree. This series of reviews by Peers presented some interesting treatments of perspective within social paradigm shifts. I found the description of the ethnic and religious groups within India to be particularly enlightening. I had no idea that there was a Jewish contingent in India around the founding of Israel. The ways in which that culture and other groups adapt, struggle, and change in the face of social upheaval that does not entirely involve or belong to them is fascinating.

      • jessonnf says:

        I didn’t know very much about the Jewish population in India, but I found it interesting how divided the community was. I think that the division between these two groups might have been increased because Jews in India were never subjected to the kind of anti-Semitism that they were elsewhere across the world. Without the experience of both being subjected to serious anti-Semitism they didn’t have a reason to united as a group. Instead they let their differences divide them. This didn’t really change until they both started to embrace the idea of Zionism later on. Britain’s role interacting between these two groups is very interesting as well. The Baghdadi viewed themselves as more European and superior to the Bene, but it was the Bene the British tried using as a go between when trying to direct the Indian people. The Baghdadi valued being viewed as important by the British, but probably considered themselves above this role. And the British probably didn’t consider them for it, knowing the disconnect between the group and the Indian population.

    • I appreciate Andrea’s comments that those telling the story, the experts or historians, are many times limited, though often unrecognized, by their own perspectives. Peers identifies some of the various authors he reviews as being from an elite class which is significant to consider in understanding their analysis’ of the interconnection between social classes (castes) and privilege in Indian society. For a few of the authors, in particular Raychandhuri, there is a dichotomy of being drawn to British influence for its wealth and promises of something better and the stark contrast of resentment towards the exploitation that coincided with colonization. Peers presents somewhat of a “love-hate” relationship between the colonized and their colonizers, as exhibited by some of the various authors he reviews.

  2. Jake says:

    Colonialism 2 (Peers): Although Peers’ review assumes a familiarity with Indian history and post-colonial theory, it presents a nice introduction to British colonial historiography and the contested and fluid nature of the colonizer/colonized relationship. His petty criticisms about margins and such aside, he definitely piqued my interest in both The Jews in British India (Rolands) and Religion and the Pilgrim Tax under the Company Raj (Cassels).

  3. Dylan P. says:

    Bagchi: This article by Bagchi presents an interesting although not entirely surprising treatment of the differences between the colonial and capitalistic economic models–particularly as they relate to indian society. The unsurprising part is that the colonizing British exploited the Indian caste system and culture to facilitate subjugation. What is interesting (and perhaps cathartic) is that the use of such means seems to subvert the capitalist endeavor of the British East India Company. Regardless of how one feels about the free market, Bagchi raises a good point — colonial rule suppresses the creativity, motivation, and labor force necessary for an economic venture in a post-feudal society.

    • Kellen says:

      I had very similar thoughts. One additional item I found interesting was how Britain’s more dated business management practices were subsequently transferred to its colonies. This further suppressed the items Dylan listed. It would have been interesting to see a post colonial rule comparison between areas of India that were colonized by the British versus areas that were colonized by other European powers.

  4. Enjoying the comments!

  5. Dylan P. says:

    Raheja: Raheja’s article on “caste, colonialism, and the speech of the colonized:
    entextualization and disciplinary control in India” presents an interesting case of social and idealogical colonization. Not only did the British in India physically take over the subcontinent, they co-opted the proverbs, folklore, culture,and traditions of this large group of people to ad hoc justify the British right to rule. I found it interesting how complete the colonization was in that way. It seems so methodical, insidious, and well thought out on the part of the British, but that impression may be too far fetched and complimentary of the Empire. In retrospect it seems that they came to India with great foresight and cultural understanding. It is more likely that the British simply exploited opportunities that were presented to them.

    • In considering Dylan’s above response to Raheja’s article, I was also impressed by the British ability and efforts in ascertaining how to best infiltrate the culture and hierarchy of those they colonized. In utilizing proverbs familiar with Indians, the British colonization was not only able to usurp tremendous power through cultural norms, they were able to efficiently derail rebellion against colonization due to their adoption of mainstream belief systems communicated through the proverbs. This same control of rhetoric exists today in our public discourse and it still proves to be very powerful in influencing the acceptance of foreign and often detrimental ideas to a society. What I find most surprising though, was Raheja’s suggestion that prior to British arrival, there may have been far greater social mobility than what is considered acceptable in the caste system. Could it be that the seeming destitution of those in the lower castes was not a result of tradition endogenous to India but rather the doings of their “oppressors”?

  6. Bagchi: I am particularly interested in this article as it has provided me another perspective on the effects of colonization on the Indian economy with material I am reading in another class. Bagchi discusses the effects of the type of capitalism as introduced by British occupation. This colonization, hand in hand with ineffective control of the sugar, cotton and indigo industries, ultimately depressed India’s advancement and competition in an industrialized global market. In various cases, such as that of sugar manufacturing, which had been in effect since before British arrival, the involvement of government through subsidies and regulation seemed to damper innovation and adaptability of various industries, effectively leaving them in the dust. On the contrary, the coercive tactics displayed by the colonizing ‘metropolitan planters’ assured grave violations of human rights abuses both evident in legal manipulation and in the control of property which ultimately served to exploit the masses of Indian society.

  7. Andrea says:

    Bagchi: Section II really stood out to me. This section addressed the planters’ use of policy to discriminate against the peasants. The use of law created a tangible separation between the powerful and powerless. This use of policy represented a formal institution of subordination. Though the law was only officially in place for only five years, the psychological effects of such policy are undoubtedly immeasurable. It is so ironic that this policy was designed to discriminate against the lifeblood of the indigo industry. Without the peasants, there would have been limited manpower, skills or land for the indigo industry.
    This section also addressed peasant uprisings. The peasants must have organized themselves around their commonalities. I would like to explore how they organized, who led the organization, and how they coordinated their actions.

  8. Jake says:

    Caste, colonialism, and the speech of the colonized…(Raheja):Using ethnographically oriented historical research, the author explores the discursive ways in which the British colonial regime responded to growing indigenous disquiet between 1870-1918 (these dates felt somewhat arbitrary but I’m sure if I knew more about Indian history it would make sense). Specifically, Raheja examines the way proverbs were incorporated into administrative texts as a way to legitimize British rule and construct a consensual colonial narrative.The concept of entextualization, removing text from its original context, reminded of Dr. Standerfer’s -particularly coordinated management of meaning. The article is about how subaltern voices are constructed by dominant ideologies–Dylan’s question about intentionality is a really important one I think.

  9. Stan says:

    Peers’ article was interesting to me in that it provided me a brief overview of several historical events in the form of a book review. The article outlines five books and also presents the author’s assessment of any particular biases that may have influenced the product of their work.

    I found most interesting the reviews of the books examining O.P. Kejariwal’s book The Asiatic Society of Bengal and the Discovery of India’s Past and Joan Roland’s book The Jews in British India. With regards to the first book, it was interesting to read of the author’s perceived biases that may present a problem for the historical accuracy and neutrality of any work product of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

    For the second book, it was very interesting to learn of the different groups of Jews that inhabited India in significant numbers as recently as the mid-twentieth century. I was very fascinated to learn not just of their presence in India, but also of the interactions and tensions that developed between the groups.

  10. Leslie H. says:

    “Rediscovering India under the British”
    The biggest takeaway for me from this reading was a need to be careful when reading historical accounts because what we have been taught about history may not be entirely true, and may actually leave out the viewpoints of key players. I enjoyed getting an overview of several different aspects of Indian history and how they are being portrayed by modern historians. One thing that surprised me was that among the Jewish Indians, one group strove to be accepted as European and the other was proud to be Indian. As the author points out, they discriminated amongst themselves more than they were discriminated against by outsiders. It was also interesting to consider how difficult it must be to feel torn between so many identities—Jewish, Indian, and European. I’m looking forward to learning more about this attempt to reconcile one’s Indian culture under British rule and how that plays out after Indian independence.

    “Caste, Colonialism, and the Speech of the Colonized, entextualization and disciplinary control in India”
    I have a love for language and truly believe in the power it has to shape our perspectives of ourselves and the world around us. This article was a powerful reminded of how language can be taken out of context and used against a culture. Every language/culture has nuances that are difficult if not impossible for an outsider to fully understand. We all have our own sayings (or proverbs) that are not supposed to be taken literally, but that is exactly what the British did with their use of Indian proverbs to reinforce the caste system and justify the colonization of India. This reading made me curious about what someone would read if they looked up “American proverbs,” so I did just that and I can definitely say that I would not want someone to use those as their primary source if information in trying to understand our language and culture. They are confusing from an outside perspective! “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” or “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” aren’t supposed to be taken literally! This article shows that language can be quickly and easily manipulated. This is a great reminder that we shouldn’t’t make judgments when we are relying on information from a biased source or non-native interpretation of language.

    “Colonialism and the Nature of Capitalist Enterprise in India”
    I’ve never taken an economics course, so delving into capitalism was difficult for me. It was interesting to examine colonialism/capitalism in the three industries of indigo, sugar, and cotton. Overall, my impression was that these “capitalist” ventures in British India were just versions of slavery or feudalism. Workers were treated unfairly and saw little gain for their work. This article reminded me of the explanation of dependency theory in one of our readings for IPSP. Under this theory, the economic growth of capitalist countries negatively impacts third world countries who supply the raw materials and labor to the capitalist country. It used an example of the word “underdevelop” as a verb to help explain its meaning under this theory—“I underdevelop you.” To me, this article was a picture of England “underdeveloping” India.

  11. Andrea says:

    Raheja: After reading this article, it is hard for me to believe the British had a strategic plan to hijack local proverbs and use them to justify the caste system. Nonetheless, it happened. This article reinforces the power of written language and shows how language can be used to subjugate people. I heard a long time ago that one way to control people is to lie to them.

    Additionally, this article left me with a few questions. First, since proverbs are such instrumental parts of many cultures, I wonder how the use of local proverbs or language changed after entextualization in India? Secondly, what work has or currently is being done to preserve traditional customs?

  12. Mitchell Adams says:

    Raheja:
    Gloria Goodwin Raheja provides a very interesting account of how the use of Indian proverbs by British colonizers came to redefine Indian culture. When the British colonized India, they believed that the proverbs of the people represented a strict code that could be used to help reconcile British rule with existing Indian structures. They picked up proverbs that could be used to help them remain in power, twisted their meaning, and used them to create laws based on false definitions (which the author calls entextualization.) Proverbs are not concrete, they are living documents that have many meanings and are constantly evolving. When the colonizers took them out of their context, they robbed them of their cultural heritage and importance. The most common misinterpretation used by the British was to use proverbs to show that “real” Indians were supportive of a rigid caste system and that they appreciated the efforts of the British. This translation was constantly forced into administrative documents and eventually the ruling system had created a governmental structure in which caste association was the major determining factor in assessing an individual’s status. One example of this is shown as the author explains that pre-1857, soldiers in the military were recruited based on general regional factors; then, in post-1857, military recruitment was based strictly on caste membership. Also, stereotypes based on intentionally misinterpreted proverbs caused some groups to be characterized as turbulent and warlike (usually achieved from rebelling against colonizers or acting in a way that did not please the British.) This reading clearly illustrates how paternalistic colonization reshapes cultures based on the interpretation of a colonized nations culture by a colonizer. The message I take away from this is that attempting to define a culture by taking bits and pieces out and using them as sweeping generalities and concrete rules is not only ignorant, but dangerous.

  13. Mitchell Adams says:

    Bagchi:
    Bagchi’s article shows how colonialism slows down the development of productive forces in India. Specifically, he mentions the indigo, sugar and cotton industries as being especially impacted. The capitalist structures started with the indigo industry but the problems inherent in that industry carried over to the other two as well. These problems were the dependency of the industries on the land and labor of peasants as well as the treatment of peasants as subjects instead of stakeholders in the process. Because of this, peasants were not able to grow crops for their own needs. The combination of colonialism, capitalism, and free market economic structures created an unequal society in India. The British exploited the Indian peasants by strictly controlling prices and created conflicts between both British-Indian group as well as groups within Indian society.

  14. Mitchell Adams says:

    Peers:
    Peers’ book reviews show different facets of Indian history that help in understanding how various social forces shaped the nation. They also provide different perspectives on how the British were viewed. The review that was most interesting to me was of the book “The Jews in British India.” The number of Jews as well as the difference in the different groups of Jewish people was surprising to me. The conflict created between the Baghdadi, Iraq, Malabar, and Bene Jews represents the type of turmoil that usually comes with colonial rule. For example, the Baghdadi were treated better by the British and chose to disassociate with other groups such as the Bene for fear that they would be looked on as natives. Eventually, all groups became dissatisfied and there was a massive emigration out of India. The identity confusion caused, in part, by colonial rule played an important role in this chapter of Indian history.

  15. jessonnf says:

    Bagchi: What I found interesting about Bagchi is that in some ways Indian capitalists adopted British business traditions, but stayed true to their own in other ways. In particular styles of management were much different in India. In India family control was much more commonplace than in Britain. For the most part the free market in India was only free for those that were managing, not for those working at the lower levels, since those of a lower caste were being subjected to unreasonable working conditions, and not getting paid a fair amount for their work. This is a similarity lower caste Indians shared with many working class British, especially in the 19th century.

  16. Veena says:

    Article 1 – Rediscovering India Under the British.

    This article jumped around a bit in the beginning, so it took me a few pages to get a grasp of the writer’s style and intention. Once I got a bit into it, however, I found it to be rather interesting. I do not know much about Swami Vivekananda and his writings, so I enjoyed reading a bit about him. And I found his theory of the influence of Greece on the Indian model of education to be intriguing, particularly after having worked within the Indian educational system. I have long In all honesty, I probably will not read any of the books that were reviewed in the article, but that is not to say that they do not have their own merit.

    Article 2 – Colonialism and the Nature of Capitalist Enterprise in India.

    I will be honest – I did not really enjoy reading this article. It was long and dry, and there were a few points where I zoned out. The sections on the indigo, sugar, and cotton industries in India were interesting but a bit difficult to follow, mostly due to the language. I had to stop numerous times throughout to look up various words, and that kept me from getting into a flow with the article. I was initially intrigued by the subject of the article but ended up disappointed with it overall.

    Article 3 – Caste, Colonialism, and the Speech of the Colonized.

    Although this article was also a bit dry, I found the subject rather intriguing. It makes sense to me now, but I just never realized the emphasis that was put on caste in army recruitment. I found it interesting how folktales and myths were infiltrated with caste propaganda. I also noticed that Captain Elphinstone was mentioned in this article after having come across his name in the first article as well; I had never heard of him before but having seen his name twice in one week I gather that he had a lot to do with the colonialism of India.

  17. jessonnf says:

    Raheja: The British tried to use Indian proverbs to their own advantage, eventually distorting the proverbs to such an extent that they were ingrained into the culture. When we think of subjugation we usually don’t think of it being so extensive to use the culture of those being subjugated against them. Instead of trying to impose their own ways on Indians to change their way of thinking, the British used the Indian’s way of thinking to impose. I can’t think of other examples in history that this has been done, at least successfully. Usually the culture of the subjugated is a refuge, not a weapon for those in charge.

  18. Caste, colonialism, and the speech of the colonized, by Gloria Raheja is a vividly historic review of the British “Raj” proverbial speech appropriation strategy for the ultimate purposes of crowd control. By decontextualizing their own first surveying findings in the territory, in an Era thriving with geography societies, rich in anthropological discoveries, the British use speech act utterances as soft power to endorse a form of Machiavellic realpolitik. This is particularly fitting to the British foreign policy of divide and conquer, ignited by the ideological discourse of assimilation, favoring a type of Pax Romana.
    This is a case study of how means are used to justify the ends. The author denounces this subversive policy of castes as a colonial farse vis-a-vis the European social order of classes, shifting its proverbial discourse between ethnographic turbulence predisposition and land revenue noncompliance, all inspired on western Christian tradition of religious conversion.

    Amiya Bagchi presents a class struggle analysis on the market forces of colonialism. She indicates a ricochet effect on the colonial power for privileging the production of raw materials in detriment of more profitable technological activities. This is illustrated by the example of the Indigo production: the surplus to the Crown inhibited the government in India from opposing the indigo planters and traders, even when facing a civil uprising by underpaid labor. Conversely, native sugar manufacture was highly restricted by unrestrained private action that suffocated innovation.
    British Colonialism favored the surplus of mercantilism and closed its eyes to the advantages of free trade with India when Lancashire textile manufacturing collapsed at home.
    I thought the author took too long to challenge the prevailing idea that capitalism and the focus on labor power as a commodity were the leitmotif for oppression in India.
    Granted that under capitalism the owners of the means of production are completely differentiated from the working class, feudalism and racially coercive labor processes are at the nexus of subordination.

    Rediscovering India under the British, by Douglas Peers is a book review that suggests a revisionist approach to British colonialism in India and Burma. The author does not favor colonialism in general, but supports an objective analysis of the British impact in India as a landmark of that nation’s identity building process.
    He identifies three different tendencies inside British India: Kejariwal denial over meaningful exchanges between the British administration in India and the Indian intellectual sector. Raychaudhuri high caste Bengali seeking a balance between complicity with the status of the ruler and grievances against the occupier, oscillating between childhood and spirituality. The Jewish community, underrepresented but tolerated, showing signs of deep division from the inside.
    Being natural from an ex metropolis, I see signs that the Portuguese also influenced the self determination of people in ways that depended not only on the type of exploration and exploitation perpetrated, but also on the ways that these communities created themselves.

  19. Katie Milligan says:

    India colonialism 2 Douglas M. Peers, (1990) “Rediscovering India under the British,” The International History Review, Vol. 12, 3: 548-562.

    I thought that including a multitude of books gave an appropriate spectrum of views from scholars on the history of India. The critical review allowed for me to discover the biases and gaps that occur when colonial historians are telling the story of India. The reaction to colonialism is one that should be told from all sides. In order to discover the true impact that colonist have in shaping the future of a country, one must revisit the past. I thought the reviewer gave very poignant reviews of the books. I like the structure of book reviews, the separation allow for me to focus on one topic at a time. The problem with this structure is showing how all the books are interconnected, something Douglas struggled to connect.

    Indian Colonialism 3 Amiya Kumar Bagchi, (1988) “Colonialism and the Nature of Capitalist Enterprise in India,” Economic and Political Weekly, PE 38-PE 50

    Bagchi’s analysis of the growth of capitalism in colonial India gives slightly obvious insight into the motivations of the British. I thought the sections on specific industries were perceptive, but the general thoughts on colonialism and capitalism seemed vague. Colonialism was not put in place to “lift Indians out of poverty”, but to gain access to resources and trade routes. The economic structure of colonialism polarizes the society; Bagchi reiterates the same point for twenty pages. I thought the specifics of indigo, sugar, and cotton production were the most interesting sections of the paper. While I thought the paper was not as revolutionary as more recent papers, I did enjoy it the most out of the three articles.

    Speech of the Colonized Gloria Goodwin Raheja (1996), “Caste, Colonialism, and the Speech of the Colonized, entextualization and disciplinary control in India,” American Ethnologist, Vol. 23, 3: 494-513.

    This paper was the most difficult to read out of the three. I thought that highlighting how proverbs were put into official documents was an interesting point. The idea that the British took traditional vernacular and twisted it to promote the caste system began to get repetitive by the end of the article. The emphasis on the 1870-1918 was good to illustrate the point, but it would be interesting to see how the speech has impacted castes even today. The historical context needed to be more integrated with the current situation, especially since Indian still has the caste system. I learned a great deal from this article, but I think it could have been more fluid and incorporate modern issues resulting from colonialism.

  20. Stan says:

    Raheja’s article Caste, Colonialism, and the Speech of the Colonized: Entextualization and Disciplinary Control in India was very interesting to me as it enlightened me of one method the British used to maintain control of India in colonial times. While it was interesting to learn of the twisting of Indian proverbs to benefit the British power structure, it does not surprise me, as I believe oppressor groups have always tried to appeal to those below them through the misuse of religious or cultural customs to their benefit. The effects of the British interpretations of these proverbs on the caste system was particularly interesting.

  21. Jake says:

    Colonialism and Enterprise (Bagchi): This reminded me of a debate that exists within US and Labor historiography on whether or slavery in the late 19th century could be considered capitalist. Of course it could. Bagchi’s argument, as a marxist economist, is that the colonial regime slowed down and often impeded the free flow of capital in ways that imposed barriers on the capitalism. This leads to–and i think this is Bagchi’s main contribution to the literature–underdevelopment.

  22. Kellen says:

    India Colonialism 2 (Peers)

    This article was a great reminder about why one should always learn more about an author and facts that are presented. This was something you alluded to in class. This should also be extended to not only authors, but also anyone who shares “facts” or “insights”. For example, in my Strategic Management class, many of my classmates that the Greeks are in a debt crisis because they are lazy. I always cringe when people make broad statements such as this about a people and a country they do not know little if anything about. Normally the people who are making this statements or producing writings do so from the confines of their own glass houses. This article highlights why we must be mindful of our own perspective and others.

    Speech of the Colonized (Raheja)

    After reading this, I was surprised by the level of detail the British took to embed themselves in all aspects of Indian society. This article really got me thinking of the assimilation practices carried out by the U.S. government on the Native Americans, and the fact they learned many of these from the British who colonized the States. One of the major differences between the British colonization of the Indians and the Americans with the Native Americans was that there was a less formalized hierarchy in the Native American communities. The British seized on this more formal hierarchy, and this allowed for a much easier to implement plan throughout all Indian society.

    Indian Colonialism 3 (Bagchi)

    (I left a comment on a different post.)

  23. Stan says:

    The parts of Bagchi’s article I found most interesting were the description of how colonial structures put in place by the British in India influenced and affected the productive output of the indigo, sugar, and cotton industries. It was also interesting to read of how the colonial structure affected the traditional Indian caste system and led to growing income disparities and deteriorating working conditions.

  24. Katie Milligan says:

    Katie Milligan
    1/26/12
    Dr. Bowman

    India colonialism 2 Douglas M. Peers, (1990) “Rediscovering India under the British,” The International History Review, Vol. 12, 3: 548-562.

    I thought that including a multitude of books gave an appropriate spectrum of views from scholars on the history of India. The critical review allowed for me to discover the biases and gaps that occur when colonial historians are telling the story of India. The reaction to colonialism is one that should be told from all sides. In order to discover the true impact that colonist have in shaping the future of a country, one must revisit the past. I thought the reviewer gave very poignant reviews of the books. I like the structure of book reviews, the separation allow for me to focus on one topic at a time. The problem with this structure is showing how all the books are interconnected, something Douglas struggled to connect.

    Indian Colonialism 3 Amiya Kumar Bagchi, (1988) “Colonialism and the Nature of Capitalist Enterprise in India,” Economic and Political Weekly, PE 38-PE 50

    Bagchi’s analysis of the growth of capitalism in colonial India gives slightly obvious insight into the motivations of the British. I thought the sections on specific industries were perceptive, but the general thoughts on colonialism and capitalism seemed vague. Colonialism was not put in place to “lift Indians out of poverty”, but to gain access to resources and trade routes. The economic structure of colonialism polarizes the society; Bagchi reiterates the same point for twenty pages. I thought the specifics of indigo, sugar, and cotton production were the most interesting sections of the paper. While I thought the paper was not as revolutionary as more recent papers, I did enjoy it the most out of the three articles.

    Speech of the Colonized Gloria Goodwin Raheja (1996), “Caste, Colonialism, and the Speech of the Colonized, entextualization and disciplinary control in India,” American Ethnologist, Vol. 23, 3: 494-513.

    This paper was the most difficult to read out of the three. I thought that highlighting how proverbs were put into official documents was an interesting point. The idea that the British took traditional vernacular and twisted it to promote the caste system began to get repetitive by the end of the article. The emphasis on the 1870-1918 was good to illustrate the point, but it would be interesting to see how the speech has impacted castes even today. The historical context needed to be more integrated with the current situation, especially since Indian still has the caste system. I learned a great deal from this article, but I think it could have been more fluid and incorporate modern issues resulting from colonialism.

    • Sydney Shearer says:

      I agree with Katie that I would be interested to see how the use of proverbs in government documents and rhetoric has influences the state of the caste system today. This process was essentially a form of institutional racism or classism imposed on Indian society by the british colonialists. I have studied the way in which institutional racism in the U.S. has left legacies of racism that exist still today and would be interesting to compare and contrast this case with that of India. How does the misuse of proverbs still impact Indian society?

  25. Really enjoyed Thursday’s class today. It was a very rich discussion. The game was also fun, in my opinion. 🙂

  26. Mark Eastham says:

    Douglas M. Peers, (1990) “Rediscovering India under the British,”The International History Review, Vol. 12, 3: 548-562.

    I found the review of the “Asiatic society of Bengal and the Discovery of India’s past,” to be an interesting portrayal of colonial influence on historical interpretation. Kejariwal’s book shows how the Asiatic society of Bengal was brought together, the development of Indian historiography, as well as the organization of Indian studies under the Raj. I enjoyed Peer’s assessment of Kejariwal’s work, especially his observation that the author did not discuss any alternate or “hidden” British colonial agendas put in place to impose their dominance. From this we see that Peers feels that Kejariwal writes with a certain colonial imposed bias. Even so, Peers secedes that Kejariwal provides interesting insight to the idea that Ancient Indian history was diffused by the west, a theme that I noticed in some of the other readings for this week.

    Amiya Kumar Bagchi, (1988) “Colonialism and the Nature of Capitalist Enterprise in India,” Economic and Political Weekly, PE 38-PE 50.

    Bagchi presents multiple case studies which show how colonial processes slowed down the productive forces of certain sectors of Indian industry. The similarities and differences between the indigo, sugar, and cotton industries under British rule are quite interesting as they reveal fallacies associated with British economic demands as well as the free market system itself. In a sense, the free market economy of early 19th century India was not in fact free as peasants and lower caste people’s were coerced, mistreated, and overworked for the benefit of land owners, European planters, factory managers, and powerful Indian zamindaris. Bagchi demonstrates how the theme of inequality related to British administered economics is constant in the other sectors as well. It is interesting to see how tighter British economic control, and the imposition of free market ideals severely divided Indian society.

    Gloria Goodwin Raheja (1996), “Caste, Colonialism, and the Speech of the Colonized, entextualization and disciplinary control in India,” American Ethnologist, Vol. 23, 3: 494-513.

    From this reading I learned about how the British superimposed themselves on the Indian caste system by using native proverbs to enhance class and caste differentials. This is an intriguing concept in so far as Raheja states that the British took traditional Indian proverbs, generalized them, and attributed them to castes in ways that differentiated them and instilled cultural divides. The author shows how the general societal changes that took place coincided with British paternalistic administration with an example of pre and post 1857 Indian military recruitment. In this example we can see that the British used stereotypes to maintain control of the Indian population by using caste descriptions as the basis for recruitment.

  27. Stephen says:

    India colonialism 2
    It was interesting to get multiple perspectives of the caste system, as well as the influx of western ideology into India. I was also unaware of the Jewish population and did not realize that India’s views of Britain varied so greatly. The Bengali intellect portion was the section I was best able to wrap my head around. For myself, I would have liked a better description of the context within which these ideas were taking place.

    Indian Colonialism 3
    For the majority of this article, I did not see how true capitalism existed in India. It seemed to sway between saying that capitalism had devastating effects on India and that true capitalism could not exist due to colonial rule. The market was not “free” and colonialism seemed to stifle, what would have been, organic growth led by economic motives.

    Speech of the Colonized
    The idea of using someone else’s speech as a weapon against them actually reminds me of the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica, though it does differ to a large extent. Rastafarians would often slightly alter words used by mainstream, western society, in order to give insight into its “true” meaning. Democracy became “demonocracy”, oppression became “downpression”. However, it reminds me to a greater extent of U.S media using scripture from the Koran to justify killing “Islamic terrorists”.

  28. Sydney Shearer says:

    I was particularly intrigued (and disturbed) by the example of indigo production in the Bagchi article. The “jointly coercive system” which maintained this industry is simultaneously ingenious and horrific. That the industry HAD to treat the indigenous peasants unfairly in order to make a profit clearly displays the negative toll that colonialism had on economic creativity in India. Indian peasants had their land, supplies, and manpower usurped from them so that the British could turn a profit. This unsustainable industry was setting the Indian economy up for failure. The British had to have realized this.

  29. Sydney Shearer says:

    The Peers article served as a good compliment to the topics of the other two articles. With the changes in governance and the economy happening in India during the colonial and post-colonial period, this article highlights the varying viewpoints surrounding the adaptation of Indians and Europeans to a changing society. The introduction to the reviews mentions that there were changing codes of behavior among each other and between the various groups. This being said, there were clearly many lenses through which history has been perceived and told about this time period. Given the knowledge from the other two articles, it is interesting to see a glimpse of the manifestation of these differing understandings of history.

  30. Russell Carey says:

    Gloria Goodwin Raheja
    Caste, Colonialism, and the Speech of the Colonized

    Raheja’s analysis of the British colonial expropriation of Indian proverbs struck me as a valuable cautionary tale for people working in public service.
    While it is easy to take the study at face value as an examination of a distant and historical foreign entity using language as a method of enforcing and justifying colonial oppression, I think it is valuable to examine my own assumptions about people that I work with in public service. The article is not about tea merchants’ poor textbook-writing, but rather the human tendency to see only what is expected or desired in interaction and communication, and the danger of abuse when this takes place between two parties of disparate power.
    It is just as easy in endeavors of service to hear the stories and proverbs of a culture different from my own, and filter them through my own biases or preconceptions rather than actively seeking context. It is more comfortable when the words of others reinforce my notions of who they are than to accept that I was wrong with confronted with their revelations.

    Douglas Peers
    Rediscovering India under the British

    Peers’ reviews of books by various authors about the history of India and Burma under British colonial rule reinforces the idea of the filter of bias in understanding culture that was examined in Raheja’s article, but with potential solutions to overcoming them. Taking a broad range of perspectives simultaneously fills gaps and highlights areas of subjective truth – the knowledge of individual experience that can never be replicated.
    The review of The Jews in British India, is particularly interesting because of the unique perspective of the persons involved, neither insiders nor outsiders, the Jewish communities in India struggled to classify even themselves. Other authors and subjects in the books struggled with self-definition, further highlighting the need to approach communities as collections of interdependent individuals, not homogenous masses to which a set of rules and definitions can be readily applied. Mukherjee’s book on Burma (according to Peers) demonstrates another trap of international study and service – limited information that leads to an imperfect perspective.

    Amiya Kumar Bagchi
    Colonialism and the Nature of ‘Capitalist’ Enterprise in India

    The practices of indigo and sugar planters in India seemed to waver back and forth across the line between unfair labor and slavery – taking advantage of an imbalance of power and the availability of an undervalued means of production.
    Parallels can be drawn between this colonial practice and the low cost production of goods in Asia and Central America today. Replace zamindars with factory managers and indigo production with retail goods, and it is not hard to make then-and-now comparisons of the unfair compensation for labor, negative environmental impacts, and use of people as mere means production.
    Flag and border colonialism has been replaced with tariff, trade, and currency exchange. An imbalance of power renders null the supposed free market, as outside control or influence leads to motives not aligned with true demand. As noted in Bagchi’s examination of cotton production, unrealistic price demands led to corruption, decreases in quality, and permanent damage to the reputation and capability of the Indian market.
    The defense for paying low wages in developing countries is that it starts or stimulates the development of capitalism and modernization that would not have otherwise occurred. But as Bagchi notes, the development of industries favorable to British interests did not translate to broad growth of indigenous industries, and even damaged or destroyed production of unique goods and services (PE-45).
    Similar practices continue today as countries like the US and China make token infrastructure and facility investments in exchange for cheap labor and a ravishing of natural resources, leading to underdevelopment when these false economies collapse after their benefit to the external party has been exhausted.

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