Dialogue and History: Constructing South India, 1795-1895

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University of California Press, Mar 6, 1994 - History - 263 pages
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Eugene Irschick deftly questions the conventional wisdom that knowledge about a colonial culture is unilaterally defined by its rulers. Focusing on nineteenth-century South India, he demonstrates that a society's view of its history results from a "dialogic process" involving all its constituencies. For centuries, agricultural life in South India was seminomadic. But when the British took dominion, they sought to stabilize the region by inventing a Tamil "golden age" of sedentary, prosperous villages. Irschick shows that this construction resulted not from overt British manipulation but from an intricate cross-pollination of both European and native ideas. He argues that the Tamil played a critical role in constructing their past and thus shaping their future. And British administrators adapted local customs to their own uses.
  

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Contents

To Fix the People to Their Respective Villages
14
Using the Past to Create the Future
67
The Rise and Consolidation of the Chingleput Mirasidars
115
From Slaves to the Original Dravidians
153
Conclusion
191
Abbreviations
205
Notes
207
Bibliography
247
Index
257
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About the author (1994)

Eugene F. Irschick is Professor of History at the University of California at Berkeley and author of "Tamil Revivalism in the 1930s" (1986).

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