In this book, Michael Dodson examines the historical ontology of orientalism, empire, and nationalism — the three major obsessions of the last generation — in the light of rarely used sources in Sanskrit, Hindi, and English, and with fresh insights into the making of modern India. It explores the varied scholarly manifestations in literature, history, and linguistics, related to the period 1770-1880, projecting the image of ‘Indian Civilisation.'
The book draws on three principal themes: the East India Company's use of orientalist knowledge and the Sanskrit pundits for strengthening state power in Bengal in the late 18th century; the uses of orientalist methodologies in education for the civilising mission in the 19th century; and, the adaptation, by Indian Sanskrit scholars, of some of orientalism's discursive constructs in the production of newly inflected Hindu identities.
The core argument is that orientalism in India is best understood not as a static modus operandi but as a shifting set of policy positions and localised practices, which were constantly adapted to changing circumstances in the colonial context as well as in respect of evolutions in metropolitan British thought.
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