Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Abstract 2010 Alexis Wearmouth

Alexis Wearmouth, University of Dundee
The Origins and Growth of Foreign Direct Investment in the Calcutta Jute Industry by a Scottish Multinational Enterprise – a Case Study of Thomas Duff & Co, 1872-1896.
With its headquarters and initial capital in Dundee in Scotland, the Thomas Duff group of jute textile mill companies operating in Calcutta experienced rapid growth during its first two decades in spite of the Great Depression and the negative reputation for speculative exuberance of the existing Calcutta industry that deterred foreign investors.  Thomas Duff represents an exceptional case of Dundee business venture; Dundee already had an established jute textile manufacturing industry and the formation of Thomas Duff coincided with the investment trust boom, which channelled most Dundonian surplus capital into ventures in the western United States.  Thomas Duff represents an atypical form of business venture, one of the only instances of successful Scottish foreign direct investment in manufacturing enterprise in this time period.
This paper considers the minute books of meetings of the directors of Thomas Duff & Co together with other archival sources in order to analyse the content of economic relationships and competences within the joint stock company form adopted by the Duff companies, and the adaptation of the group structure to growth.  This case study draws on the existing literature on the categorisation of British foreign investment in the age of empire and, in turn, illuminates the relative strengths of rival typologies – Wilkins’ 'free-standing companies', Jones’ 'multinational traders' and Chapman’s 'investment groups'.  It also considers the applicability of theories from institutional economists such as Williamson to economic historians such as Chandler. There are significant aporia in this body of literature by western business historians and economists, which neglect to consider sufficiently the imperial context governing the functioning of the factor and product markets of an important Indian export industry.

Abstract 2010 Lisa Sturm

 Lisa Sturm
Seminar für Geschichte und Kultur Südasiens
Humboldt- Universität zu Berlin
The American-India Trade in the Context of Global Transformations 1784-1830

Over the last few decades, global history has become an ascendant discipline for historical
studies. With the increasing globalization of our time, the question of dating globalization to its
beginning has aroused the interest of many historians and comprehensive approaches towards
world history, unveiling global entanglements and complexities, have shed new light on
historical events and their coherences. The late eighteenth century is seen as a period where
world crisis and global acceleration were triggered by an “age of revolutions” that led to the
collapse of various regimes worldwide. A process that created many hybrid polities, mixed
ideologies, and complex forms of global economic activity, which is characterized by periods of
stability and periods of worldwide crises.

The post-revolutionary India trade of the United States of America emerged out of such global
conjunctures and crises of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. American
independence and the discontinuation of the East India Company’s monopoly on Indian trade
made direct trade relations between the American and Indian merchants possible. With the
Napoleonic Wars and the Continental System, the American traders became significant as a
neutral carrier of Asian commodities for the European markets and were able to replace
European merchandisers in the East India trade during this time.

The dissertation aims to give a comprehensive account of the coherences and complexities of the
American-Indian trade and its effects on the participating societies. It examines the global
character of the trade, its reexport to several world regions and the impact of commerce and
consumption on both the American and Indian societies.

It is suspected that the trade with India contributed substantially to a commercialization of the
US-American society. Recent research on American society between 1780 and 1830
characterizes the time as a period of social transformation, contradicting the common narrative
that social changes in US-American society set in first with the rise of industrialization in the
1860s. The time between 1780 and 1830 witnessed a deep transformation of the American
society when modern financial and commercial forces of the early decades tamed the classical
republican tradition leading to a spread of commerce and business. This, along with a consumer
revolution where Asian luxury goods played a decisive role can be described as early
developments towards a popular commercial society in the USA.

The dissertation will show, that a clear picture of the dimension and scope of the American-
Indian trade relations is only possible by putting them into a global context as the uprise of the
trade relations between 1784 and 1815 was directly affected by the global crises of the late
eighteenth century and can therefore be described as critical juncture of globalization.

Abstract 2010 Dhrupadi Chattopadhyay

Dhrupadi Chattopadhyay
University of Heidelberg

‘Transcreating’ spaces? A review of nineteenth century Indian Writing in English, with a special focus on Toru Dutt.

Early Indian writing in English (of the nineteenth century) suffers the fate of the Gordian knot, as it awaits its Alexandrian sword. The knot has intensified over the years with debates about the paradoxical nature of this literature constantly plaguing it. Writing for/about the nation in the colonizer's tongue has perhaps emerged as the central paradox. In the light of Indian English historiography, one finds a definitive 'defensive nationalist narrative' that has tried to negotiate a truce with the tainted exogenous linguistic heritage. Therefore, the linguistic shared space between the colonizer and the colonized has often emerged as the site of cultural collision.

Literature of the nineteenth century is habitually orphaned by the critics as it bears the uncomfortable stamp of colonial complicity. Therefore, it is no wonder that most criticism has focused on the linguistic dilemma and teased out ‘representations of otherness’ in a reflex defense. While this might have been a historical necessity (although in modern theoretical understanding-‘India’, the nation, is a construct, and a disreputable enterprise!), consciously or unconsciously, it created a linear progressive history of Indian Writing in English. This conceptualization that charted the course of Indian writing in English from ‘imitation to authenticity’, helped accommodate the literature of “a familiar mixture of colonial condescension and drawing-room tact”[1]. Despite reservations, there has been a sustained effort to ‘naturalize’ (Hans Harder) the ‘alien insiders’ (P.Lal). This general defensive ardour has conceivably delivered the opposite result. Impelling measures have just bound this body of work in an ideologically charged linguistic net. 

This paper does not propose to valorize the literary merit of the Indian writing in English of the nineteenth century. It merely attempts to survey an interesting aspect of this writing that has largely remained unnoticed. Meenakshi Mukherjee suggests in the Perishable Empire(2000) that in the nineteenth century, the vernacular languages carried the onus of writing the ‘nation’. This colonial bilingual existence perhaps offered the Indian writers in English relative freedom to experiment with the notion of ‘spaces’. At the risk of gross generalization, one might also point to the fact that most authors of this period were part of the first Indian diasporic community (like Madhushudhan Dutt, Manmohan Ghose, Aru Dutt, Toru Dutt etc.). This suddenly exposed them to virgin areas of mind and space, which created novel territorialities. Toru Dutt, a classic example, is at equal ease writing about the legends of her country or narrating the life of Bianca, a Spanish maiden. This unrelenting blurring of parallel territorialities offer a new understanding of the concept of spatial imaginary of the colonial subject writing in the colonizer’s tongue. How does Toru Dutt, a representative figure, reconcile the movement and fluidity of ‘spaces’? This paper promises to probe the problematics of the multiple cusps of territorial imaginaries, caught in a charged linguistic compass. 

[1] Adil Jussawalla. ‚The New Poetry‘, The Journal Of Common wealth Literature, 1970(5), p.65.

Abstract 2010 Jana Tschurenev

Jana Tschurenev, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
Imperial Experiments in Education: Monitorial Schooling in India and Britain (1789-1835)

In the recent literature on global history and post-colonial studies, scholars came up with different concepts to grasp the mutual constitution of metropoles and colonies under condition of asymmetrical power relations. In this line, this paper analyses the emergence and spread of a new type of public-funded popular elementary schooling in early nineteenth century India and Britain. It argues that in both contexts the substitution of earlier educational facilities (such as patshalas and dame schools) by modern schools was in different ways linked to the imperial entanglement. Firstly, it introduces the so-called monitorial system of education – one of the first international currents in the field of pedagogy that has been interpreted as a precursor of state educational systems – as the hybrid product of the encounter of South Indian (Tamil) pedagogical practices with Scottish enlightenment moral philosophy. The paper continues to explore some of the repercussions of imperial experience and colonial knowledge on the emerging discourse of an urgent need to provide for the “education of the poor” in England. Thirdly, it shifts the focus back to India and summarizes the changes in the form and content of education, which the introduction of a particularly colonial variation of the new method triggered there. Rejecting notions of an “export” of pre-existing metropolitan educational institutions, pedagogical models, school curricula, or even educational systems to colonial contexts, the paper argues for a multi-centric and entangled history of modern schooling and explores the potential of a transnational approach in the writing of South Asian History.

Abstract 2010 Chaiti Basu

Chaiti Basu, Heidelberg

Panchu Thakur: Indranath Bandyopadhyay’s (1849-1911) Response to the Colonial  Cultural Encounter in Late 19th Century Bengal

In the Eurocentric colonialism of British India, the cultural interaction between the colonizer and the colonized was often asymmetrical and mostly hierarchical [Chatterjee, P. (ed.) (1996): Texts of Power: Emerging Disciplines in Colonial Bengal: 26]. In 19th century Calcutta, the new urban Bengali cultural elite, emerged as a result of their acquaintance and interaction with Western education, tried to come into terms with the socio-cultural repercussions of the time and thus forming a relation of “alienation and affection” [Osterheld, C., Zoller, C.P.(eds) (1994): Of Clowns and Gods, Brahmans and Babus: Humour in South Asian Literature] with their colonizers and paved the way for the emergence of the feeling of a national identity. In this respect, satire was perhaps the ablest literary tool to explore the asymmetries in the hierarchical relation as, “during the transition to nationalism [satire] can coordinate and even transcend the interests of diverse social groups.” [Knight, A. C. (2004): The Literature of Satire: 79]

From the various forms of satire in the public spheres witnessed in Bengal i.e. prose narratives, novels, poems, farces, dramas, cartoons, caricatures, theatres etc., I concentrate mostly on the investigation of satires of Indranath Bandyopadhyay (1849-1911), who represents the more conservative but hugely popular faction of the late 19th century Bengali intelligentsia. His satires [Utkrsita Kabyam (1971), Kalpataru (1874) etc.] often attempt a reversal of the colonizer-colonized positions in the colonial hierarchy, question the functioning power-relations and insinuate doubt the validity of colonialism itself by overturning the justification of the claimed ‘superiority’of Europeans over the colonized. His imitation/ inspiration of the British ‘Punch’ in the serialized comic pieces of Pancu Thakur (The Reveler in the Punch), where his wit and humour find the most spontaneous expression paves the way for such challenges. Indranath is also claimed to be the author of the first satirical novel proper in Bengali (Kalpataru) by some recent literary historians [Sen, Amiya P. (1993): Hindu Revivalism in Bengal: 242 and Sen, Sukumār (1956): Bangla Sahityer Itihas, Vol II. 224]. Keeping in mind these considerations, his works seem to be apt for analyzing the reactions of, and repercussions among the middle class Bengali intelligentsia, especially towards the constant cultural flows taking place in late 19th century Bengal.  

These are some of the questions which I investigate in my thesis:

·        What are Indranath’s instruments/methods which he engages in his resistance/criticism of the colonial power?
·        Which side of the colonial society has been attacked the most and why?
·        Who were the target readers?
·        Who were being attacked and why? 
·        What was his motivation?
·        Which role does the narrator’s character (Panchu Thakur) play? Etc.

Abstract 2010 Maria Moritz

Maria Moritz, Jacobs University, Breman

A South Asian Cosmopolitan: Bhagavan Das and the critique of the Theosophical Society,  (1913-1914)

A key aim of The Theosophical Society was to found a ‘Universal Brotherhood of Humanity’ based on a cosmopolitan agenda which allowed everyone into its global network of branches ‘irrespective of race, class, creed or gender’. Due to their fascination with Indian spirituality, the two founders, Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott, moved the international headquarters from New York to Bombay in 1879.

Rather than focusing on the organisation as a unit of analysis, however, the paper offers the case study of an Indian affiliate of The Theosophical Society and thus empirically substantiates the perspective of an individual in a global network of belonging. 

Although Bhagavan Das never left India he was a ‘citizen of the world’. He constantly reflected the interconnectedness and dependency of various countries, was an active member of the transnational theosophical network and of the bi-lingual urban elite of colonial India, whose global orientation was informed by means of the new information technologies such as the telegraph, the telephone and the rapid expansion of the English press in the metropoles.  Moreover, Das belonged to a indigenous elite with a more traditional, regional form of global awareness. Thus he developed a multifaceted transnational identity.  

Starting from the concept of ‘rooted cosmopolitanism’ the paper examines how Das combined these entangled, interfering and conflicting cosmopolitan influences in his individual form of transnational identity on the theosophical platform and how he got into conflict with the Society’s universalizing aspirations in 1913-1914. His numerous articles in the Society’s main organ The Theosophist and his scholarly contribution to theosophical knowledge production at the beginning of the 20th century provide the empirical basis for my analysis. 

By highlighting the dynamics of a specific cultural interaction I aim to contribute to an understanding of the global awareness of non-European social actors within an integrating world.

Abstract 2010 Pragya Dhittal

Pragya Dhittal, SOAS

Paper chains: an investigation of cross-border commerce in north Indian print-media 

This paper will outline my PhD project, which looks at how practices relating to the production and distribution of Indian newspapers are continually redrawing group boundaries in north India and south Nepal. It emerges from preliminary fieldwork conducted in north India in spring 2009, during which I found out about cross-border newspaper networks and multi-lingual newspapers.

On the one hand, consumption of a particular newspaper written in a particular language would seem to identify a reader’s national, ethnic and political location. This is why politicians and advertisers seek to influence specific groups through certain papers: Muslims through the Urdu press; Hindus through the Hindi press; relatively affluent readers through English media; voters in a constituency through a local edition of a paper.

On the other hand, these identifications are complicated by the fact that consumers and producers have multiple and shifting locations. This is evident in many newspapers’ lack of consistent political message and divergent conceptions of what constitutes a newspaper's locality - changes in the areas covered by newspapers and readerships outside designated localities, e.g. Nepalese and Muslim consumption of Hindi media; newspapers which publish in multiple languages and scripts.

This project was provoked into existence by dissatisfaction with generalizing accounts of group formation, which fail to account for such variability and heterogeneity; in particular, with Anderson's description of how large anonymous communities (e.g. nations) were created through the practice of reading a newspaper written in a single language dealing with events occurring all over the world (Anderson 1983).

At the same time, it is inspired by Anderson’s insights into how everyday practices such as reading a newspaper, effect large-scale socio-political transformations by altering the way people perceive time, space and community. 

I hope to extend and deepen previous approaches by looking at how newspapers delineate localities and communities in light of literature on print media in north India (Jeffrey 2000; Ninan 2007); new and old forms of globalisation (Appadurai 1996; Pollock 2006); and the relationship between practices and concepts (Schatzki 1996).

I hope to use multi-sited fieldwork and multi-lingual textual analysis to get a multi-layered perspective on group formation within and across states. I would like to study both texts and places because of a sense that a newspaper’s contents are intertwined with the commodity chains through which it is produced. Therefore, as well as doing discourse analysis of texts, I hope to collect quantitative and qualitative data regarding networks of production and distribution.

My main focus will be the Lucknow-based “Hindi-Urdu” newspaper Aag, selected because of its sharp minoritarian perspective on the larger media scene. It will be the focus of my ethnographic research and I will also read its contents against that of Dainik Jagaran (biggest selling Hindi newspaper in India); Rashtriya Sahara Urdu (biggest selling Urdu newspaper in India); and The Times of India (biggest selling English newspaper in the world).

Abstract 2010 Sadia Bajwa

Sadia Bajwa (Doctoral Candidate, Humboldt University, Berlin)
The Genealogy of the Nationalist Historiography of Pakistan:
An Analysis of Historiography in the Context of the Emergent ‘Muslim Nationalist Discourse, 1857-1947.

The aim of this study is to trace the history of the main historical concepts and premises that dominate the nationalist historiography of Pakistan. The study firstly looks at how the Muslim past imagined by the Muslim intellectual elites in the course of the century prior to partition, which is when the Hindu-Muslim dichotomy began to crystallise politically (i.e., ca. 1857-1947). Secondly, a link is drawn between this emergent discourse of ‘Muslim nationalist’ historiography and the post-partition nationalist history writing in Pakistan. The post-partition nationalist history of Pakistan, written with the ideological aim of forging the Pakistani identity, was not constructed out of thin air. Thus, this paper examines to what extent the historical themes, the periodisations, the geographical imaginings, and the heroes and villains of this historiography were drawn from the pre-partition historiographic discourse of Muslim identity that was premised on the idea of Muslim difference and distinctiveness, especially in opposition to ‘the Hindu’. The study is based on the understanding of a historiographic analysis as an insight into the relationship between history and identity. Historiography is understood as a window into a certain discourse of identity, as well as an ideological tool to create and mould this identity.

The analysis has been divided into two phases: pre-Khalifat and post-Khalifat. Before the failure if the Khalifat movement the dominant ideologies cursing in the intellectual elite were an uneasy mix of pro-British modernism, pan-Islamism, and in the 20th century, also pro-Hindu-Muslim unity. An attempt has been made to see how these political developments are reflected in the historiography of the time, and how in turn, the ideas expressed in the historiography shaped the discourse of Muslim identity. In the post-Khalifat phase, the focus is primarily on how the development of the idea of Pakistan is reflected in the historical concepts and constructions employed in the historiography of the time. In particular, historical constructions that support the Two-Nation Theory and varying separatist visions are identified. Thus, the study does not solely deal with academic histories, but also with explicitly ideologically and politically motivated historiography that in supporting a certain view of the Muslim nation inevitably employed historical concepts which were embedded in the dominant discourse of Muslim identity, i.e. the ‘Muslim nationalist’ discourse.

As an epilogue, this paper touches on questions regarding the post-partition negotiation of Pakistan’s history and identity in public discourse, as opposed to the state-sponsored official discourse of nationalism. The official discourse draws on and is embedded in a public Muslim identity discourse that has its roots in the pre-partition era, and which rediscovered and renegotiated itself within the newly established territorial and ideological boundaries of independent Pakistan. It is proposed that this public discourse provided the state with its ideological raw material, while at the same time, through its counter-narratives, challenged state hegemony over the production of historical knowledge. While the official discourse is well represented in historiographic sources such as textbook history, what are the historiographic sources that could serve as an insight into the public discourse on Pakistan’s identity?

Abstract 2010 Shazia Ahmad

Shazia Ahmad, School of Oriental and African Studies

Abstract 2010 Swarali Paranjape

Swarali Paranjape
Ph.D. Student
(Department of Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures)
Cluster of Excellence, Karl Jaspers Centre
University of Heidelberg

Marathi Satire in the Era of Colonialism

Marathi is one of the prominent modern Indian languages of western India. Traces of satire in Marathi literature can be found in the literary works of Marathi writers as early as in 13th and 14th century. There is an abundance of satirical literature during the colonial era, especially in the second half of 19th century and in the early 20th century, in western India. Satire for the Marathi intellectuals – a product of colonial encounter themselves – was a powerful literary mode to critique the British colonial regime and also of self-criticism. Marathi satire deals with the questions of colonial government and its politics, ridicules and attacks the anglicized Marathi people and social mimicry, shifting gender identities, traditional ways, attitudes, role models and engages with the problematic of Marathi cultural identity and everyday lives under the overarching presence of colonialism. In spite of leaving a notable mark in the Marathi literary oeuvre, satire has been neglected by literary historians and critics. This challenges one to make it a point to give Marathi satire a critical attention in the realm of literature. 

My paper will focus on the changing mode of colonial satire from protest against the colonial rule to redefining the self. Colonial Marathi satire does not only attacks the British rule but also confronts the insecurity in the minds Marathi middle class about the rapidly changing society and hence their newly found identity. Marathi authors not only contributed highly controversial political theatre plays but also introduced legendary narrators in their novels reflecting the social and cultural changes in the society. The formation of Marathi middle class identity and its inextricable linkage with the contemporary discourse on gender relations in Marathi society is a prominent theme of colonial satire.

Abstract 2010 Tobias Delfs

Tobias Delfs 

Between individual freedom and external necessities: Misbehaviour of Protestant missionaries in 18th and early 19th century India

Lambert Christian Früchtenicht (1772-1806?) came to India in 1799 as a missionary of the Danish-English-Halle Mission. He went to the Danish establishments Serampore near Calcutta and Tranquebar near Madras. In 1801, he was already forced to leave because of his misbehaviour: during this short period he was described in around 80 letters of complaint by his missionary colleagues for example as a “rowdy”, an “alcoholic” or a “gambler”.  These letters resulted in calls for Früchtenicht to be suspended from working; in reaction to this Früchtenicht threatened to commit suicide. Eventually he was sent back to Europe, and suspended by the Danish mission board in Copenhagen – after this he travelled to Philadelphia, where he unsuccessfully carried out his threat to kill himself. By putting the extreme case of Früchtenicht in the broader context of the behaviour of other missionaries and Europeans in general, the paper explores (a) the difficulties the Protestant missionaries were confronted with in the environment of the Indian subcontinent and (b) how they reacted while facing challenges and conflicts. What intentions, personal values and and institutional norms can be seen in their actions? What kind of networks did they use in settling such disputes like that regarding Früchtenicht? How could their room for manoeuvre be extended by the use of communication and networks? In terms of institutional control (c) this also raises the question of “distance” and “nearness” in the “topography” of the networks as the missionary societies were located in Europe and communication took a long time. Moreover, the centres had their own perceptions and solutions. The same was true for the colonial administration and its European centre, which sometimes also was affected by the conflicts arising out of missionary misbehaviour. Inversely, the missionaries in India often were dependent on flexibility because of their special problems. Therefore, “space” can be seen as an ambivalent category that on the one hand could restrict agency, but on the other hand could also be used and by this offered more choices to act for the missionary. These three aspects will provide the main focus of the presentation.

Abstract 2010 Uffa Jensen

Uffa Jensen
Universal Knowledge of the Self? The Transnational History of Psychoanalysis in Calcutta (and Berlin and London), 1910-1940

The history of psychoanalytical knowledge in the 20th century is a decisively transnational one. The years before WWI saw the emergence of an international psychoanalytical movement and the substantial popularization of its ideas in various societies. This diffusion was not restricted to Europe or even the Western world. Already in 1922, the first non-Western psychoanalytical society was founded in Calcutta. In the following years and decades, psychoanalytical knowledge spread further to Japan, South-Africa, Argentina, Brazil etc. Nevertheless, many of the questions emerging from this history can best be addressed by placing the Bengali case in a global frame. All the relevant elements of the popular psychoanalysis were present for the first time outside the Western world: intense scientific-theoretical discussions about psychoanalytical concepts, a therapeutic-technical application of psychoanalytical methods in clinics and practices as well as an everyday-practical usage of psychoanalytical ideas for the understanding of dreams, wishes, emotions etc.

In the research on psychoanalysis, the transnational nature of its influence is frequently noted, but rarely explored in its depth. Most studies, including those on non-Western societies, confine themselves to the study of the national setting. The few studies on the international psychoanalytical movement, however, portray the Bengali (or, more generally,  the non-Western) case as a curious detail without much importance for the general history of psychoanalysis. While the general historiography has recently focused much more on transnational and global phenomena like migration, colonialism, economic interactions etc., this case of a truly and – to some degree – astonishingly transnational movement of ideas, practices, and intellectuals still merits investigations. Finally, questions of the relation between the local and the global are of growing concern also for Indian and Bengali historiography. In the colonial context of early 20th-century Calcutta, psychoanalysis offered a variety of intellectual possibilities: apart from its therapeutic value, it could serve as a mode of Westernization, as a method to understand Indian and Hindu (religious) traditions as well as an intellectual form of colonial critique.

This research projects examines the transnational forms of popularization and diffusion by looking at three cities: Berlin, London and Calcutta. Thus, the project raises important issues of the nature of knowledge, that is its transnational as well as its localized urban quality. To take the example of Calcutta: on the one hand, it is important to reconstruct the local adaptation of this knowledge into a concrete setting of Bengali Bhadralok intellectuals as well as into the more general urban culture of Calcutta (through modes of popularization in the vernacular). On the other hand, the fascination with this specifically Bengali version of psychoanalysis should not render meaningless the global and globalizing dimension of this knowledge. As an intellectual theory and therapeutic practice, classical psychoanalysis presupposes a universal self. From this perspective, the creation of a Bengali version of psychoanalysis seemed to reinforce such claims to universality. At the same time, it was this very character of the knowledge that enabled the Bengali intellectuals to particularize psychoanalytical concept. Thus, on a cultural (and not on an overtly political) level, this history amounted to an early cultural critique of Eurocentric notions in the history of knowledge.

Abstract 2010 Patrick Hesse

Patrick Hesse
Humboldt Universität Berlin
Dialectics of Freedom and Tradition: Religion and the Communist Movement

When thinking about Indian life and society today, religious and spiritual phenomena occupy a prominent place in almost everyone’s reflection. The alleged monumentality of India’s spiritual heritage has at all times either fascinated of horrified Western observers, the first reaction usually being displayed by modern-times Ashram tourists, the second by analysts of the glaring fissures between different belief systems, but also within the varna structure.
Communist thought is one of the few concepts hitherto which has tried neither: By rejecting religion and its (enamouring or horrifying) spiritual and social reality as insubstantial, as a mere ideological by-product of the underlying relations of production, it has applied a rationalist approach aiming at the profound betterment of society – that is, to rid it of the rule of man over man and thus of religion (as one of its perceived ‘stabilizers’), too.
Notwithstanding this seemingly categorical definition, this resolute drawing of a boundary between itself and “third-ranking opinions” (Lenin), the history of Indian communism has witnessed a number of episodes which have put it into close proximity to religious organizations or movements, starting in its very beginning. Moreover, the dogmatic stance towards religious phenomena has proven not to be as monolithic as it seems at first – of course without abandoning a proper Marxist patch of analysis and action in the eyes of the protagonists. The circumstances of the communist party’s foundation in 1920 are a major point here, as is its stance towards the Pakistan movement in the 1940s.
Thus, the presentation’s main point is to show the specific ‘intermediality’ of the topic: How the communists tried to advance their own system of thought in relation to the ‘medium’ of religion. It will deal with a selection of critical instances and contrast them to basic communist concepts. It shall try to illuminate the improbable – the de facto, if not outspoken alliances of communist activists with the very forces they were, and still are, supposed to wipe off the earth. In the course of the presentation, the different ways of making this possible are to be examined; or, to put it in more contemporary terms: The different techniques of the communists in dealing with religious phenomena will be highlighted, centring on the communist party as the epicentre and theoretical hub of the corresponding movement.

Abstract 2010 Monika Freier

Monika Freier
Center for the History of Emotions
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Teaching Ideals and Feelings: Moral Education in Colonial Northern India
My paper explores how moral education – for both children and adults – became a vital issue in Colonial India. I will exemplify this by looking at text-books and advisory literature, written in Hindi and published in northern India during the latter part of the 19th and the early 20th century.

The first schoolbooks in Hindi were translations, either from English sources or from an earlier version in Urdu. As this did not prove sufficient, the Government tried to stimulate print production and tackle the need for good educational material by awarding cash prizes for original books written in the vernacular. With the revision and development of text-books underway, the records of the educational department show a rising awareness of the importance that lies in moral education. How this educational goal could be incorporated into the curriculum of government schools – while maintaining the prescribed policy of non-denominational education – was the main question.

The colonial government’s concern centred chiefly on the urban elite’s English education and rural literacy programmes for the masses. But the development of commercial printing along with rising literacy also let indigenous social and religious reformers raise their voices. They were united by the interest to educate their fellow countrymen and reform society along their visions of an ideal Aryan society that had existed in the past and should now be revived. Members of the Arya Samaj, for example, voiced concerns regarding the moral effects of “western education” on students and promoted alternative institutions for a “national education”. Institutions like the Nagari Pracharini Sabha started their own patronage systems to stimulate the production of “valuable books”.

Advice manuals on domestic as well as civic topics thus became a prominent means to induce moral education outside the institutional sphere of the classroom. A close analysis of these texts shows that they not only propagate rules for manners and conduct, but also – more subliminally – postulate norms for feelings and the expression of emotions. Certain emotions frequently recur, such as female bashfulness, male pride and marital love (as opposed to sexualized passion). I will argue that shaping and nurturing emotions within a tight social framework becomes a key element of moral education, and the propagated norms are subsequently identified with the emerging upper-caste Hindu middle class.

Analysing advisory literature in Hindi thus draws light on the development of print culture in India and shows how a new text medium emerges, that propagates moral education and spurs the process of community formation.

Abstract 2010 Simin Patel

Simin Patel
Balliol College, University of Oxford

A Cosmopolitan Crisis: The Bombay Riots of 1874

Variously called the Mahomedan Riots, the Bombay Riots and more recently, the Parsi-Muslim Riots of 1874, the three days of communal conflict in February 1874, were the severest Bombay had witnessed. Sparked by a Parsi author, Rustomjee Jalbhoy’s controversial publication on Prophet Muhammed and intensified by the fears of further retaliation during the impending Mohurrum festival; the riots left 7 dead, over 50 seriously injured and property amounting to about Rs 32,000 destroyed or stolen.
Rather than reducing the violence to an overt expression of pre-existing communal antagonisms, this paper examines the riots as a cosmopolitan crisis, an inevitable consequence of the largely deregulated, pluralistic religious economy in Bombay that published not only ‘high’ reformist literature, but also lesser work like Jalbhoy’s book in Gujarati, a piecemeal translation of various Western commentaries on the life of Mohammed. A survey of the debates surrounding the riot, staged chiefly in the press, reveal more the outrage over an under-staffed police force and a late military intervention, than the socio-religious tensions of the two communities. Here my argument will draw on recent historiography on Bombay, like Sandip Hazareesinghs’, which contends that far from being gifts, modern amenities like a civic infrastructure, adequate police protection etc were often struggled for and demanded from a reluctant colonial administration.
This paper will trace the course of the riots through various arenas- the streets, private residences, the press and finally the court trails of the accused. It will also contextualize the riots of 1874 within broader patterns of Parsi rioting in Bombay- the Dog Riot of 1832, the smaller Tower of Silence Riot of 1873, the Prince of Wales Riot of 1921 and particularly the Parsi-Muslim Riot of 1851. Though spaced 23 years apart, the circumstances and events of both Parsi-Muslim riots are markedly alike- instigated by indiscriminate Parsi publishing, with Mohurrum around the corner, leaders relegating violence to lower class Parsis and Muslims, performing similar rituals of reconciliation and twice unlucky the buggy of Dr. Peel, Assistant Surgeon at the J. J. Hospital, was assailed by the rioting mob. However in 1851, it was a disproportionate sketch of Prophet Mahommed in a Gujarati bi-weekly newspaper that caused offense; the pitfalls of cheap lithographic printing. By 1874 photographic practices were well established in Bombay and words more than pictures seemed to be causing damage. Widely disseminated internationally was a photograph of a beautiful Algerian youth, considered the picture of the prophet.

Abstract 2010 Mette Gabler

Mette Gabler 

The Good Life – Buy 1 Get 1 Free
Messages of Outdoor Advertising for Social Change in Urban India

Due to the pervasiveness of media in all aspects of life, a commonly discussed topic  among media scholars, development planners and conscientious citizens is the possible harmful impact of media upon society e.g. sexism. At the same time media messages are considered to be a social sub-structure that represents an intrinsic variable in the process of social change. This is illustrated by numerous examples where media is believed to be useful as an educational tool. Different forms of media are continuously being used to influence attitudes and activities as well as to sway peoples’ purchasing behaviour. A common example of this includes attempts to improve public health besides the multitude of product and service sales. In addition, media is said to be important in democratic governance as it functions as a watchdog of governmental operations and seen everywhere in the form of entertainment. I therefore suggest that media holds the potential to encourage change towards equality, tolerance and social responsibility and hence see possibilities of positive effects of messages.

Consumerist advertising strategies are of special interest. Advertising is believed to have the ability to influence purchasing behaviour and encourage people to buy or use one specific brand or service. Some regard advertising communications as entirely profit driven and not intended as educational messages. However, the messages contained are biased communication that indicate a point of view, a proposed ideology or reflect a public discourse and can in this way be viewed as messages that might challenge existing social structures and prove to propagate social change.

Urban India as a relatively new neo-liberal market is especially interesting due to its blend and vastness of socio-economic classes, castes, religion and trans- and multicultural existences. The increasing consumerist trends among financially-able groups in urban India are accompanied by a milieu with increased advertising and mediated forms of communications.

The characteristics of the public sphere enriches the discussion. Here, the audience is controlled to a lesser extent and open to all socio-economic classes, castes, religious and educational backgrounds, and also varies in all levels of gender, age and ethnic affiliation. Public space hence functions as a space of transcultural communication, a space where cultures meet, and outdoor advertising as a medium that transgresses cultures within urban Indian cultures. I therefore will discuss existing examples of media communications between consumerism and social change in the realm of the multifaceted nature of outdoor advertising in urban India. Included are billboards and posters mainly collected by myself during the fall 2008 that will be presented and analysed in their message conveyed and images depicted.

Gender relations continuously seem to be the foundation of control and politics and as a result the construction of feminine identities is a way to enforce control over women’s lives. As such, characteristics of women and the expected attitude and behaviour have evolved into a “socio-symbolic site”, exemplified in the discourse of women representation in media and advertising. As a result, media messages that seemingly challenge the existing gender construction and femininity are at the centre of this investigation.