Christocentric Travel Writing dynamics of comparison and classification

Peter Gottschalk

in Religion, Science, and Empire

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780195393019
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979264 | DOI:
Christocentric Travel Writing dynamics of comparison and classification

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Contemporary Protestant theology and its categories of religious difference influenced British views of India in ways not often enough recognized. This is witnessed in travel writing, a popular form of knowledge production that served as an ethnographic prelude to the disciplines of anthropology and folklore studies. The voyager puts herself in the way of contrast as she leaves the realm of the understood and enters that of the unfamiliar, thus demonstrating one of the crucial qualities of the ethnographic mode of comparison. The chapter explains how the ethnographic accounts of missionaries and other Christian travellers to Chainpur and the region show the influence of Christian theology in the comparative assessments of humanity made by many Britons. As the travelogues of Anglo-Indian William Bowley and Britons C. B. Leupolt, R. G. Hobbes, and Reginald Heber demonstrate, Christocentric travelogues differed from humanist ones because of the theological basis of their comparison and classification when encountering members of other cultures. The chapter also explores the similarities and differences in pre-modern religious classification as practiced by pre-modern Europeans and South Asians.

Keywords: Christianity; missionary; comparison; classification; ethnography; Medieval Europe; Mughal; Heber; Leupolt; Bowley; Hobbes

Chapter.  17417 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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