Constructing the Colonial Encounter: Right and Left Hand Castes in Early Colonial South India, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Constructing the Colonial Encounter

Right and Left Hand Castes in Early Colonial South India, 1st Edition

By Niels Brimnes


288 pages

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Hardback: 9780700711062
pub: 1998-12-18
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This book offers a systematic analysis of the violent clashes between the South Indian 'right' and 'left' hand caste divisions that repeatedly rocked the European settlements on the Coromandel Coast in the early colonial period. Whereas the Indian population expected the colonial authorities to intervene in the disputes, the Europeans were reluctant to get involved in conflicts which they barely understood. In the nineteenth century the significance of the divisions diminished, a development that has long puzzled historians and anthropologists. In addition, this study addresses the larger issue of the nature of colonial encounters. The rich material relating to these disputes convincingly demonstrates how Europeans and Indians, as they sought to incorporate each other into their own social structure and conceptual universe, participated in a dialogue on the nature of South Indian society.

Table of Contents




1. Introduction

2. South Indian Society: a Dynamic Interpretation

3. Madras 1700-20: Indigenous Leaders Competing for Honours and Commerce

4. Madras in the 1780s: Caste Disputes in an Expanding Colonial Context

5. Tranquebar in the 1780s: Suppremannia Chetti’s Challenge to the Social Order 103

6. British-Occupied Pondicherry 1794: Unsettled Authority

7. Madras 1800-20: Caste Disputes in the ‘Capital of Kingdoms’

8. Tranquebar 1815-25: Caste Disputes in a Nineteenth-Century Backwater

9. Madras Presidency 1800-50: Caste Disputes under Judicial Management

10. Conclusion

Appendix A: Glossary

Appendix B: Castes and Caste Names



About the Author

Niels Brimnes

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies