Contentious orientalism : Bengali intellectuals at the Asiatic Society of Bengal circa 1829-circa 1885
Title: Contentious orientalism : Bengali intellectuals at the Asiatic Society of Bengal circa 1829-circa 1885
Author: IKHLEF, Hakim
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2014
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
The Asiatic Society of Bengal was founded by Sir William Jones in Calcutta (nowadays Kolkata) in 1784. It is a learned society which was to carry investigation which bounds would be the geographical limits of Asia and within these limits (…) whatever is performed by Man and produced by Nature. It was thus instituted in order to inquiring into the history and antiquities, the arts, sciences, and literature of Asia. Initially a rather selective circle of British scholars, the Society elected Indians to membership from 1829 onwards and elected an Indian as its president, Rajendralal Mitra, in 1885. Two hundred years later, the Government of (independent) India granted the Society the status of National Institution. This thesis focuses on Indian presence at, and contribution to, the Asiatic Society of Bengal between 1829 and 1885 to discuss and address the main positions in the debates on the relationship between knowledge and power in colonial contexts since the publication of the book Orientalism by Edward W. Said. Doing so, it argues that, if Indians collaborated to craft orientalist notions and discourses about India's history and culture, they did so with an agenda of their own. Thus, they appropriated and transformed orientalist ideas, knowledge and applications and which gradually infused it into an ideological framework articulating discourses on Indian national identity, socio-ritual hierarchies and the nation's place in the 'modern world'. Finally, this dissertation seeks to explore the limits of this framework, and its incapacities to integrate the diversity and variety of communities that contributed to form India.
LC Subject Heading: Asiatic Society of Bengal -- History; Intellectuals -- India -- Bengal -- History; Bengal (India) -- Intellectual life -- 19th century
Defence date: 14 January 2014; Examining Board: Professor Sebastian Conrad, EUI; Professor Antonella Romano, EUI; Doctor David Washbrook, Cambridge University; Doctor Pratik Chakrabarti, Kent University.
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