1st Edition

The Inhuman Empire Wildlife, Colonialism, Culture

By Sadhana Naithani Copyright 2024

     This book is a study of selected texts of British writings on Indian wildlife published between 1860 and 1960.


    Set in the context of British colonial rule in India, this book also reflects on similar situations across the British Empire and other colonial empires. The destruction of wildlife in the making of empires is a subject not yet fully explored in scholarship. This book aims to speak to global concerns regarding the extinction of several species and shows that the crisis has international roots. The Inhuman Empire breaks new grounds as it juxtaposes colonial narratives to folk narratives. These two types of narratives treat nonhuman animals very differently – folk narrative considers them sentient beings, while colonial narratives see them as ‘game’ and do not care for their sentience. Both types of narratives are further evaluated with reference to the contemporary position of natural sciences regarding animal sentience and of anthropologists and philosophers regarding the relationship between nature and culture. Analyzing colonial accounts of hunting, the author looks at the pain and suffering of nonhuman animals and combines statistics alongside narratives of British writers, Indian populace and nonhuman animals in order to show narratives' reflect and impact reality.


    This book will be of great value to those interested in Animal Studies, Folkloristics, the history of Colonialism and India.

    Sign up here for the table talk on Sadhana Naithani's book: Indian Animal Studies Collective | Table Talk Ep 37 (mailchi.mp)

    1. The Hunted, their Witnesses and the Hunters’ Narratives  2. The Majestic Elephant Meets the Government of Her Majesty  3. The Multispecies World of the Indian Householder   4. The Tiger Obsession  5. The Tiger Grips the Narrator  6. The Narrative Warfare  7. To New Narratives        


    Sadhana Naithani is a professor of literature and folklore at the Centre of German Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research interest is in seeing cultural transformations through narratives. Two of her books are In Quest of Indian Folktales (2006) and The Story Time of the British Empire (2010).