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Title: Imperial networks, ethnography and identity in colonial India and New Zealand
Author: Ballantyne, A. J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis explores the relationship between ethnographic knowledge and the construction of identities in Britain's empire from the 1706s to the 1920s. It focuses on the development of British understandings of indigenous cultures in South Asia and New Zealand. In both contexts, colonial knowledge was not simply a hegemonic British imposition, but rather was actively constructed out of British encounters with a variety of indigenous knowledge traditions, learned experts and scribal communities. But this study goes beyond a simple comparison of the role of knowledge in two colonies, to examine the globalisation of ethnographic knowledge within the empire as Indian-derived models increasingly informed Maori studies from the 1850s. This cross-fertilisation of ideas reflected a complex series of social and intellectual changes: the rise of the comparative method; the textualisation of indigenous traditions; the emergence of colonial learned societies; and complex webs of correspondence which linked two colonies as disparate as India and New Zealand. These networks shaped a fierce debate as missionaries, administrators, and scholars disputed Maori origins (were they Aryan, Dravidian or tribal?) and the influence of India on Maori culture. Maori prophetic leaders, however, exhibited little interest in these theories, insisting instead that Maori were Israelites, not Aryans, promising that the second coming of Christ would expel Pakeha and usher in a golden age of peace and stability. While Maori rejected Aryan theories, Hindu reformers and Indian nationalists seized upon them to forward new visions of the Indian past, present and future. Notions of Indian-European unity were downplayed at the expense of new notions of Hindutva (Hinduness) and the superiority of the Indo-Aryans. Thus this study establishes the profound intellectual and cultural exchanges in the nineteenth century empire which led to powerful reassessments of British, Indian and Maori history and community.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available