Colonial Indology: Sociopolitics of the Ancient Indian Past

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Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Limited, 1997 - Social Science - 257 pages

This book explores some underlying theoretical premises of the Western study of ancient India. These premises developed in response to the colonial need to manipulate the Indians' perception of their past. The need was felt most strongly from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards, and an elaborate racist framework, in which the interrelationship between race, language and culture was a key element, slowly emerged as an explanation of the ancient Indian historical universe. The measure of its success is obvious from the fact that the Indian nationalist historians left this framework unchallenged, preferring to dispute it only in some comparatively minor matters of detail. This book argues that this framework is still in place, and implicitly accepted not merely by Western Indologists but also by their Indian counterparts. The image of the ancient Indian past remains the same. The persistence of the old image is reflective of India's relationship as a part of the Third World with the West and Western historical scholarship. This book has a further argument. Mere dismantling of the current racist structure of our perception of ancient India and all that implies will not lead by itself to an Indian perception of the ancient Indian past. Besides, any alternative sense of this past should be something in which all Indians, irrespective of their individual affiliations, can feel having a share. Among other things, the book underlines the total inadequacy of ancient Indian texts to offer fine resolution historical images in chronological and geographical order, and argues that this goal is unlikely to be achieved by combining our historical texts with some social science theories. This can be achieved only through detailed grassroots investigations of the ancient history of the land and its interrelations with human beings. The academic context of the book lies in an increasingly expanding area of archaeological studies of the sociopolitics of the past. This is the first major exercise in this direction in the context of India.

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User Review  - thcson - LibraryThing

An interesting book on how the British colonial legacy has impacted Indian historiography. Particularly the Aryan invasion hypothesis is criticized and seen as a mistaken idea based on very meagre ... Read full review


The Context of the Racial Classificatory Systems
H H Risleys Racial Framework for India

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