Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India

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Princeton University Press, Sep 8, 1996 - History - 189 pages

Bernard Cohn's interest in the construction of Empire as an intellectual and cultural phenomenon has set the agenda for the academic study of modern Indian culture for over two decades. His earlier publications have shown how dramatic British innovations in India, including revenue and legal systems, led to fundamental structural changes in Indian social relations. This collection of his writings in the last fifteen years discusses areas in which the colonial impact has generally been overlooked. The essays form a multifaceted exploration of the ways in which the British discovery, collection, and codification of information about Indian society contributed to colonial cultural hegemony and political control.

Cohn argues that the British Orientalists' study of Indian languages was important to the colonial project of control and command. He also asserts that an arena of colonial power that seemed most benign and most susceptible to indigenous influences--mostly law--in fact became responsible for the institutional reactivation of peculiarly British notions about how to regulate a colonial society made up of "others." He shows how the very Orientalist imagination that led to brilliant antiquarian collections, archaeological finds, and photographic forays were in fact forms of constructing an India that could be better packaged, inferiorized, and ruled. A final essay on cloth suggests how clothes have been part of the history of both colonialism and anticolonialism.


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This is really good book to understanding the power and institutionalization of languages in India by European.

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Chera Dynasty was that of Villavar/Nadalvar Kings. The Cheras called themselves Villavar Kon and they were supported by Villavar subcastes such as Villavar, Malayar and Vanavar. Meenavars were the ancient subcastes of Tamil Villavar people.
The Chera Coins displayed Bow and Arrow insignia of Villavars and Palm Tree on the Obverse side. The Villavar people were involved in the cultivation and harvesting the Palm trees from time immemorial. On some Chera coins there was images resembling Pile of coconuts were seen on the reverse side.
Villavar insignia Palm Tree and Bow and Arrow were seen almost all the Chera Coins.
Sun, Moon, Flag Post and Elephants were inscribed too in the Chera coins.
Ummattur Chiefs, a branch of Kongu Cheras who ruled until 14th century even after the fall of Mahodayapuram Cheras issued many copper coins.,19630.msg132765.html?PHPSESSID=3e1f2438d905308d1c17e619f82b87a5#msg132765
Some of the Ancient Chera Coins displayed Hill insignia of Malayar along with their official Bow and Arrow and Palm tree. Rarely Chera Coins displayed the Fish insignia of the Meenavar people.
Kerala meant Kera = Coconut + Alam = Field
All the Villavar kings The Cheras,Pandyas and Alupas Shared Kulasekhara title.
Kula meant lineage or Bunch of Coconuts. Sekharan meant collector.
Kulasekhara might mean the collector of Coconut Bunch.
Mahabharata called the Pandyan King Saranga Dhwaja (Bow flagged king). Malaya Dhwaja (Hill flagged) Pandya was also mentioned in Mahabharatha indicating the common Villavar ancestory of the Pandyas. The Vanavar or Vanathy Rayars of the Pandyan Kingdom are subcastes of Villavars too.
Kanjirappally Madurai Meenakshi Temple has an inscription of Maveli Vanathy Rayar a Pandyan feudatory of the Pandyan dynasty who ruled over parts of Kottayam and Ramnad (1250).
Eyinar (sharp shooters) were either a Villavar sub caste or Nagas joining the Villavar ranks giving them the title Enathy Rayar (Eyinan +Athy Rayar).
Meenavars were seagoing twin caste of Villavar people in the ancient times. Villavars mixed with Meenavars formed the aristocracy called Nadalvars who ruled over Pandyan country. Mara Nadar, Vanavar or Vanathy Rayar, Eyinar or Enathys were all considered Villavar clans. Some Villavarayars mixed with meenavars and adopted fishing.
Pandyan Chera and Chola countries were established by Villavar people much earlier than the arrival of Nagas two thousand years ago.
Kalithokai mentions about an ancient battle fought between the Dravidian Villavar and Meenavar Tamils against their enemies from the North the Nagas (1000BC).
Eventually many Naga tribes start migrating from their home north of Ganges to Central India and through Kalinga towards the Pandyan country.
The Meenavars got alienated from Villavar/Nadalvar people after the arrival of Nagas (Maravar Parathavar Oviar Aruvalar Eyinar) from north through Kalinga, during the Later Sangham age. Nagas further joined the Kalabhra or Kalavar people and became antagonistict to the Pandyas in 300 AD. However Pandyan dynasty was revived around 600 AD.
Kalabhra dynasty mixed with Mara (Nadars) were ousted from Pandyan country and started ruling from Chola country with its capitals at Uraiyur and Puhar (600-800 AD). Kalabhra(Muttarasa) Maran dynasty was considered as an offshoot of Pandyan Dynasty.
Kalabhras joined the Cholas against Pandyas (800 AD) leading to Chola dominance (800-1100 AD).
Pandyas in their war of succession invited Ezhavar under Srilanakan general Lankapura in 1170. Thus strengthened Pandyans ruled Kerala, Tamil


The Command of Language and the Language of Command
Law and the Colonial State in India
The Transformation of Objects into Artifacts Antiquities and Art in NineteenthCentury India
Cloth Clothes and Colonialism India in the Nineteenth Century

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About the author (1996)

Bernard S. Cohn is Professor Emeritus of History and Anthropology at the University of Chicago. He is the author of An Anthropologist among the Historians and Other Essays and India: The Social Anthropology of a Civilization.

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