Chapter

The Colonial Construction of the Indian Past

Gyanendra Pandey

in The Construction of Communalism in Colonial North India

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780198077305
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081097 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198077305.003.0002
The Colonial Construction of the Indian Past

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This chapter addresses the following question: How did colonialist observers ‘read’ the history of Hindu–Muslim strife that they dug up in the course of their attempts to come to grips with Indian society? It draws on the evidence relating to the ‘grave’ Banaras riots of 1809, which figure prominently in colonial diagnoses of the social and political condition of India in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It demonstrates that a methodical reordering of Indian history was in process as the colonial regime set out to systematize its knowledge and consolidate its power. The most striking feature of the colonial writings under discussion and also perhaps the least investigated — in part because it has passed without much change into nationalist writings and a good deal of recent historiography — is the reduction of Indian history to the history of the state.

Keywords: colonial observers; Hindu–Muslim strife; Banaras riots; colonial regime; colonial writings; nationalist writings; recent historiography

Chapter.  16375 words. 

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