By Peter Gottschalk
Peter Gottschalk deals a compelling examine of the way, in the course of the British implementation of clinical taxonomy within the subcontinent, Britons and Indians pointed out an inherent divide among collectively hostile spiritual groups. England's ascent to strength coincided with the increase of empirical technology as an authoritative approach of realizing not just the flora and fauna, however the human one in addition. The British clinical ardour for type, mixed with the Christian impulse to distinguish humans based on faith, ended in a designation of Indians as both Hindu or Muslim in line with rigidly outlined standards that paralleled class in botanical and zoological taxonomies. via an historic and ethnographic research of the north Indian village of Chainpur, Gottschalk indicates that the Britons' presumed different types didn't inevitably replicate the Indians' techniques in their personal identities, although many Indians got here to include this scientism and progressively authorized the kinds the British instituted via tasks just like the Census of India, the Archaeological Survey of India, and the India Museum. modern day propogators of Hindu-Muslim violence usually cite scientistic formulations of distinction that descend at once from the kinds brought via imperial Britain.Religion, technological know-how, and Empire might be a priceless source to someone drawn to the colonial and postcolonial heritage of faith in India.
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Additional resources for Religion, Science, and Empire: Classifying Hinduism and Islam in British India
As the chapter shows, while some South Asians resisted these categorical impositions, others appropriated them for their perceived benefit. The sixth chapter explores how, as two roots of the developing discipline of anthropology, folklore and ethnology represent divergent efforts to use narrative for the sake of comparison. British and Indian travellers and officials engaged in informal folkloric studies Introduction 17 found particular interest in and diverse renditions of Chainpur’s longstanding narrative involving an unjust local raja and the ghost of his slighted Brahman vizier.
I also endeavor to demonstrate how such projects in British India illustrate Jonathan Z. Smith’s observations regarding comparison. For historians and their students, I seek to build on previous scholarship regarding the impact of British 18 Religion, Science, and Empire imperialism on the religious landscape of South Asia. Specifically, I hope to illustrate how religion featured as the primary category of interpretation for most British—and, increasingly, Indian—knowledge projects. Because the British administration of India played such an important part in the solidification of rigid religious boundaries, this study needs to pay attention to bureaucratic details that will surely seem overly prosaic to many scholars of religion, though routine to historians.
Although associated today with abject poverty, rampant corruption, virulent casteism, and a violent Maoist insurgency, Bihar served as an especially important province in British India. Bihar, with Bengal, comprised the regions that the East India Company first obtained Mughal permission to control in South Asia. Although administrators, missionaries, and artists may have given Bengal proper more attention, Bihar represented an essential transition zone between the secure realm surrounding the British capital in Calcutta (today, Kolkata) and the more uncertain realms of Nepal, the “Upper Provinces” (today’s Uttar Pradesh and Punjab) and “the Central Provinces” (Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra).