Evolution, Race and Public Spheres in India: Vernacular Concepts and Sciences (1860-1930)

1st Edition

Luzia Savary

April 11, 2019 Forthcoming
Reference - 192 Pages
ISBN 9781138541849 - CAT# K375188
Series: Routledge Studies in South Asian History


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This book provides an in-depth exploration of South Asian readaptations of race in vernacular languages. The focus is on a diverse set of printed texts, periodicals and books in Hindi and Urdu, two of the major print languages of British North India, written between 1860 and 1930.

Imperial raciology is a burgeoning field of historical research. So far, most studies on race in the British Empire in South Asia have concentrated on the writing of Western-educated elites in English. The range of Hindi and Urdu sources analyzed by the author provide a more varied and complex picture of the ways in which South Asians reinterpreted racial concepts, thereby highlighting the importance of scrutinizing the vernacular dimensions of global entanglements. Part 1 of the book centers on the debates on ‘civilization’ and ‘civility’ in the Hindi and Urdu periodical presses, travelogues, geography books as well as Hindi literature on caste. It asks if and in what respect the discussions changed when authors appropriated racial concepts. Part 2 revolves around the 'science' of eugenics. It scrutinizes more popular genres, namely, early-20th century advisory literature on ‘fit reproduction’. It highlights in how far the knowledge promoted there was different from 'eugenics', as the (mainly English-writing) founders of the Indian eugenic movements endorsed it.

A fascinating analysis of ways in which colonized elites have adopted and readapted racial concepts and theories, this book will be of interest to academics in the fields of Modern South Asian history, History of Science, Critical Race Studies and Colonial and Imperial history.

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