It was in this period that the study of the Persian language began to accelerate. As early as , Benjamin Kennicott , a noted Hebrew scholar, made a proposal to establish a professorship of the Persian language at the University of Oxford. As a consequence, they generally relied on the established class of Persian educated literati immersed in the Mughal courtly ethos, individuals directly employed under the Mughal emperor or in one of the regional principalities.
Now employed by the East India Company and in changing economic, political, and social circumstances, many members of the Persian literary community navigated two cultural worlds. They increasingly occupied the cultural borderlands that existed between the British colonial administration and the Persian language courts of South Asia. They facilitated the liaison of these often divergent, and at times collaborative cultural spheres, performing variously the role of interpreter, translator, and informant.
In many cases they communicated the values of Persian language courts to their British patrons while translating those values to accommodate the cultural differences and political power represented by the British. The crafters of history were rarely, if ever, exclusively authors As such, Persian history writing was didactic in nature and closely wedded to the genre of advice literature.
As the British acquired more knowledge and power and employed larger numbers of Persian literati within the colonial apparatus, a significant transformation took place in the social function of the Persian historian. The history was commissioned by Henry Vansittart, the Governor of Fort William between , and it details contemporary events in Bengal between High level British administrators like Henry Vansittart were frequently personally involved in the new historiographical project.
In Persian historiography produced for South Asian courts, dynastic succession was incidental to larger narrative goals that detailed the justice and injustice of Muslim rulers. For the British reader this information was primarily for the understanding of who had ruled and who succeeded to rule. In this sense one can observe the first signs of modern Persian historiography in the late 18th century. It was accompanied by an intensive translation project into English. These works were published at an official level and dedicated to the chief administrative officers of the British empire. This work was part translation and part historical reinvention based on earlier Persian historical works written in India.
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This was a new direction in the evolving historical consciousness of India and in contrast to the precolonial Persian historiographical tradition which generally followed a dynastic configuration. It is an extensive history of the period of the dominance of South Asian Muslim courts, dating from the Ghaznavids to the 16th century. Dow, however, transforms the conceptual orientation of the work retitling it, The History of Hindostan.
The first treats the life of Adam, the progenitor of human kind, and his subsequent descendants of prophets leading up to the time of Muhammad. A second myth of origins follows an ancient Persian model that begins with the life of Gayumarth and proceed through the history of Persian kings. These Hindu kings are superseded by Muslim rulers who are followed by the British. This is one of the first characteristics of colonial British historiography. Significantly, it played a role in an international scandal involving Warren Hastings during his impeachment hearings for alleged fiscal improprieties committed in India heard before the British Parliament in London.
In fact, the translator claims that this was his motivation for producing the work. It was a significant period that initiated Urdu historiographical production under colonial auspices, a trend that was paralleled by other vernacular South Asian languages. It was a period of intense reimagining global history in general and Islamic history in particular.
While for the British, Persian was a language of necessity, Urdu was a language of convenience. The Urdu language was uniquely positioned to disseminate historical knowledge in South Asia. It was first published in Calcutta in and then in subsequent editions and forms in , , , and A partial French translation was produced in It quickly became a standard for the Urdu language.
It was only a year earlier that he helped compile and select Arabic sources to reimagine the history of Islamic Spain However, its perceived value as a historical text dissipated with time. Historically speaking it created a frame for Indian history segmented between Hindus and Muslims, though geographical bound. Aloys Sprenger commissioned the work while serving as Principal of Delhi College.
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After this he found a position working for a British officer. It was used in part by Charles Hamilton, an officer in the service of the India Company employed to work as Persian translator. He used this and other sources to produce An historical relation of the origin, progress, and final dissolution of the government of the Rohilla Afgans in the northern provinces of Hindostan compiled from a Persian manuscript and other original papers in It is an abbreviated version of his earlier Persian work. Similarly there was an expansion of biographical literatures.
In an effort to present his history as a more objective work, with scholarly citations and devoid of traditional rhetorical flourished and quotations from Persian poets, Sir Sayyid prepared a second edition in , and subsequently a third edition It was also the time of the instalment of the Naval Kishore Press in Lucknow Following the events of the sepoy revolt in , the British removed him from the throne and he was exiled. The work was only partially finished in , and the events of most likely hastened its termination.
He is the subject of a respectful biography by C. It was within one generation of that policy that the Persian historiographical heritage was replaced by English and Urdu.
Ideologies of the Raj The New Cambridge History of India, Volume 3, Part 4~
The first half of the 18th century saw British scholars engaged in a comprehensive project to study and catalogue Persian historical sources in South Asia. Early histories produced in English were translations from single or multiple Persian manuscripts. Fraser had studied Persian under a number of different Muslim and Parsi scholars while staying in Khambat and other places on the West coast of India.
It was during this time and over the course of his travels that he collected a number of Persian and Sanskrit manuscripts. He catalogued these in an appendix to his history, one of the earliest of its kind. Early English language histories of South Asia were generally dynastic in character. Around the same time changes were made to language usage in the courts of the East India Trading Company.
Persian was replaced as the sole legal language in favour of vernacular languages and English Indian history was now British history. James Mill famously wrote The History of British India first published in three volumes in and later expanded to six volumes. Other major examples of British historiography of India are G.
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Significantly, English works of history of South Asia populated the realm of missions and educational institutions associated with schools. In , John C. The History of India saw a number of reprintings and it was updated and expanded in This was part of the project to translate the British understanding of world history to readers and students of vernacular languages in India.
An Urdu edition of the Survey of History was produced in In the 18th century, historiography of India was defined by Persian language histories written for the courts of Muslim, Sikh and Hindu rulers. British colonial administrators approached this literary heritage with an eye to translating and moulding that knowledge for their own uses. In many ways the historiography produced in South Asia came full circle. Once a matter of translating Persian historiography into English, now, English conceptual history was translated back into India.
This dense engagement of language and politics produced a transcultural globalized sphere where a new literary product and a new historical understanding of India in the 19th century was born. Tauris, Ballhatchet , K. Sharp, Calcutta, Superintendent Government Printing, Chatterjee, C. Hawes, Lewisburg, Bucknell University Press, , p. Cohn , Bernard S. Becket and P.
De Hondt, Franklin , Michael J. Strahan, Grewal , J. The first ideology was the broader British ideal of democracy and their desire for representation of all people in government that they cherished in their own country. They liked to believe they could introduce this into the Indian sub-continent and allow an ancient country to be restored to its glory. This ideology however conflicted with their desire to control the country and to exploit its colony, and hence another ideology was developed over time.
It was an ideology of "the enduring differences and oriental despotism of the people in warmer climates. Some of the sociologists went on to further categorize the various Indian communities based on theories of physical characteristics, local geographic conditions, etc. The book does an excellent job of showing how these ideologies impacted the day-to-day administration and life of the British who lived in colonial India giving examples based on actual historical events and the British lifestyle in colonial India.
There is also a very interesting epilogue in the end that talks about how this ideology towards the people from the Indian sub-continent continued to persist even after the sub-continent gained independence from the British. It is witnessed towards the people from the Indian sub-continent who emigrated to the United Kingdom.
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These immigrants even today have not fully assimilated and continue to be viewed by many Britishers as people who are inherently different from them. Overall, this book is an excellent analysis of a complex topic that has been written in a matter-of-fact, easy-to-read, and extremely engrossing manner.
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It is a must read for anyone who is interested in understanding the mindset of the British towards colonial India. Apr 24, morning Os marked it as to-read Shelves: colonial-studies. Susan says this is a good book to read for the sake of comparison to Japanese logic of colonialism. Mar 13, Max rated it really liked it. For what it is a short survey , I can't imagine you could do much better.
Plenty of food for thought and a lot to follow up for more serious reading. Nav Athwal rated it it was ok Dec 12, Richard rated it it was ok Apr 11, Kym rated it liked it Oct 22, Senjuti rated it liked it Mar 07, Michael rated it really liked it Jan 13, Tommy Buttaccio rated it it was amazing Jan 31, Brad Hart rated it liked it Feb 05, Barshana Basu rated it liked it Sep 15, Nehagupta rated it really liked it Apr 07, Sutton rated it liked it Oct 07, Lance Houser rated it liked it Mar 08, Brandice Mello rated it really liked it Mar 14, Rajesh Dey rated it it was amazing Apr 04, Adam rated it really liked it Aug 13, Mary Reed rated it liked it Apr 03, Alex rated it it was amazing Sep 02, Aborym rated it it was amazing Mar 28, Conor Meleady rated it really liked it Aug 02, Philostorian Minthong rated it really liked it Aug 17, Margarida rated it really liked it Nov 18, Jonathan Petree rated it liked it Oct 12, Laura rated it really liked it Dec 25, Raj rated it liked it Jun 03, Wafa Khan rated it liked it Nov 03, Maria rated it it was amazing May 07, Chau rated it really liked it May 05, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.
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