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.