Book

Religion, Science, and Empire

Peter Gottschalk

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780195393019
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979264 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393019.001.0001
Religion, Science, and Empire

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In Beyond Hindu and Muslim (2000), Peter Gottschalk explored the contexts in which contemporary Indians engage one another through multiple identities, including but not restricted to religious ones. In Religion, Science, and Empire, he investigates historically how Britons and Indians came to characterize the subcontinent as inherently divided into mutually antagonistic religious communities. Not accidentally, the period of British Indian imperial rule coincided with the crystallization of new forms of knowledge that became academic disciplines. Cartography, anthropology, demography, ethnology, archaeology, folklore studies, and the secular study of religion each drew from and contributed to the imperial endeavor. Each was molded by the intertwined forces of Christian ideology and scientific practice. Britons used these disciplines in an episteme that classified the world in new ways. While not inventing Hindu-Muslim antipathy, British ways of understanding Indians definitively divided Indians into mutually exclusive categories modeled on biological taxonomy, and influenced by medieval Christian assumptions. Like others dominated by Europeans, many Indians contributed to both the British state and its scientific efforts, while also increasingly understanding themselves through the prism of Western-originated sciences. Far from government centers and academic offices, local officials, travellers, and missionaries–both Indian and British–in rural India contributed to the gathering hegemony of new empirical sciences and the scientific method. They did so by creating on-the-spot representations for the imperial state and metropolitan scholarship, while gradually disseminating to the broader Indian population a scientism that today has become central to our globalized world.

Keywords: religion; science; empire; India; British; Hinduism; Islam; Christianity; classification; scientism

Book.  448 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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Introduction in Religion, Science, and Empire

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Religion, Science, and Scientism in Religion, Science, and Empire

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