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 writings of Western-educated elites in English. The range of Hindi and Urdu sources analyzed by the author provides 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 I of the book centers on the debates on "civilization" and "civility" in Hindi and Urdu periodicals, travelogues and 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 II revolves around the "science" of eugenics. It scrutinizes more popular genres, namely, early twentieth century advisory literature on "fit reproduction." It highlights how 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 the 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.
Table of Contents
Introduction, Part One, Introduction - From Beasts and Demons to Inferior Races? Civilization and the Shifting Ideas on Human Difference in the Hindi and Urdu Public Spheres, Chapter 1 - The Civilized and the Uncivilized: Dividing the World in the Late Nineteenth Century, Chapter 2 - Hindi Literati’s Savage Others? The ‘Showcasing of the Wild’ and the Permanence of the Civilizing Mission, Chapter 3 - ‘Struggle for Existence’ and Eugenics: a Comparison Between Hindi and Urdu, Chapter 4 - The Nature-Nurture Debate on Caste, Part Two, Introduction: Hindi and Urdu Advisory Literature on reproduction: the cases of Santati-Śāstra and kokaśastra, Chapter 5 - 'Mental Force' or Selective Breeding? Comparing Two Para-Eugenic Rationalities, Chapter 6 - 'Selecting the Best Flowers from the World's Gardens of Knowledge': Vernacularization and Scientific Referencing, Chapter 7 - Between ‘Artificial Contraceptives’ and Brahmacārya. Ambivalent Attitudes To Birth Control in the Hindi Public Sphere, Conclusion.
Luzia Savary received her doctorate in History of the Modern World from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland. She currently works as an interpreter at the Refugee Office of the Italian Consortium of Solidarity in Trieste, Italy.