The organizers welcome papers focusing on continental European responses to the 1857 Rebellion in India – based primarily on non-English language sources – and their wider implications. A linked question of interest is whether ‘1857’ in India finds a place in colonial/anti-colonial discourses in other regions under European control during the nineteenth century and afterwards. The seminar aims at bringing together interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives on the issues outlined below. The papers presented will be published in a volume that will probably be the first attempt to bring together non-English European responses to the 1857 Rebellion and make them known to a wider readership.
Please send the title and a brief synopsis (200-300 words) of your proposed paper by 15 August 2007. Each paper will be allotted 20-30 minutes for presentation. The Department is unable to offer travel fare. However, local hospitality in the University Guest House will be provided.
This year commemorates the 150th anniversary of the 1857 Rebellion in India, possibly the most significant movement of resistance against European colonial rule in the latter half of the 19th century. The Rebellion generated an enormous literature, including eyewitness accounts by British administrators, officials and civilians, as well as an entire genre of ‘mutiny stories’ in English. While for a long period, British accounts dominated historical understanding of these events, attention since Indian Independence has shifted to Indian participants and eyewitnesses. Little attention, however, has been given so far to other European responses and representations – in languages other than English – despite the existence of a considerable body of literary and non-literary texts (e.g. press reports) as well as other cultural artefacts (e.g. illustrations). Some of the literary texts have been translated (e.g. Jules Verne) but most of them remain inaccessible outside the languages in which they were written. It is moreover a curious fact that some of them were hugely popular and went into several reprints long after their original publication.
Accounts of European travelers in India over the past thousand years or more have been invaluable sources in gaining insight into aspects of society, culture and history in the Indian subcontinent, even when scholars cast doubt on the veracity of certain accounts. Such accounts as well as literary representations of India have also contributed to understanding of the forces that drove social, cultural and historical change in Europe. With regard to the 1857 Rebellion and the wider impact of anti-colonial agitations in India, in what ways did non-English European observations and responses shape opinions about colonial rule and colonial policy? What relationships are revealed between these responses to ‘1857’ and European ideas about social development in an age of rapid economic transformation, socio-political upheaval, proliferating nationalisms, emerging racialist discourses, as well as rising internationalist solidarities? Do these responses have any reverberations in later, even contemporary times?
Conference dates: 30-31 October 2007
Venue: University of Delhi
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