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BEYOND BENGAL: GENDER, EDUCATION, AND THE WRITING OF COLONIAL INDIAN HISTORY

  • Benjamin D. O'Dell (a1)

Extract

Few topics connected to the study of colonial India have produced quite as much scholarship in recent years as the issue of colonial Indian education reform. The past decade alone has witnessed the publication of no fewer than eight English-language books on the subject, as well as a steady stream of journal articles. Part of the appeal of such research is no doubt a result of India's privileged place in the British Empire during the nineteenth century. In 1881, India's first complete census documented the existence of 253,891,821 Indian subjects living under the British Raj – or, to put it another way, a population nearly ten times the size of England and Wales's own population during the same period. For scholars, education offers a particularly fruitful site for understanding British colonial ideology. In addition, it provides an important glimpse into the lives of Indian subjects. An extensive print archive, manifest in sources as diverse as political speeches, bureaucratic files, periodicals, and memoirs, has greatly aided research into the development of colonial education. At the same time, the tendency for research to privilege particular regional focuses has left troublesome gaps in the historical record.

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