Parna Sengupta

in Pedagogy for Religion

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268296
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950412 | DOI:

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This text challenges one of the most compelling historical fictions: that Western rule secularized the non-West. It confronts this idea by demonstrating how the sustained involvement of missionaries in the expansion of modern education ultimately reinforced, rather than weakened, the place of religion and religious identity in the development of Indian modernity. This chapter questions the conclusions drawn by theorists of historical and contemporary imperialism who describe the missionary role as a “self-consciously” modernizing project. It reveals the paradox that the pursuit and adaptation of modern educational techniques and institutions, mainly exported to the colonies by Protestant missionaries, opened up new ways for Hindu and Muslim leaders and the colonial state to reformulate ideas of community along religious lines. It demonstrates the centrality of vernacular education as a space in which missionaries and native leaders could theorize and ultimately propagate the practices and norms required of a properly modern society. It reveals the ways the materials and institutions of vernacular education became a means to argue for a vision of community and identity based on religious affiliation.

Keywords: colonial difference; historical fictions; Western rule; missionaries; education

Chapter.  8322 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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