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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #157: August 6, 2004

Modern Asian Studies

Journal Name: Modern Asian Studies: Volume 36 - Issue 02 - May 2002
Print ISSN: 0026-749X Online ISSN: 1469-8099

Re-Presented for the Pandits: James Ballantyne, 'Useful Knowledge,' and Sanskrit Scholarship in Benares College during the Mid-Nineteenth Century (pp257-298)
Michael S. Dodson (University of Cambridge)
In January of 1853, the Lt Governor of the North-Western Provinces, James Thomason, inaugurated a new building in Banaras, situated perhaps halfway between the European cantonment and the ghats which line the sacred river Ganga. Designed in a high Gothic style by Major Kittoe, this was to be the new home of the Benares College, which incorporated one of the largest, and most symbolically important, Sanskrit departments of any British educational institution in north India. The building itself, which is now incorporated into Sampurnanand Sanskrit University, somewhat resembles a Christian church, for it is a long structure with high vaulted ceilings and a large stained glass window in the wall opposite the main entrance doors. Inscribed into the walls are verses in English and Hindi; one counsels that 'the lips of truth shall be established forever, a lying tongue is but for a moment.' Under this roof, it was intended that the knowledges of East and West would, in some sense, be united, for the College's Superintendent during the mid-nineteenth century, James Ballantyne, was pursuing a pedagogy which was intended to demonstrate to the learned Hindu elite that the truths of European philosophy and science, while constituting a significant advancement upon Hindu learning, might also be reached by way of the latter's sound, yet undeveloped, premises. As such, Thomason spoke to the audience present that day of the Benares College as a beacon in the midst of a waning brahmanical system, from which enlightenment would spread forth: 'one instrument in the mighty change.'

Rumours and Politics on the Northern Frontier: The British, Pakhtun Wali and Yaghestan (pp299-340)
Martin Sökefeld (University of Hamburg)
This paper deals with the British policy towards an area adjacent to the Gilgit Agency on the 'northern frontier' of British India during the years of 1914 and 1915. It highlights some aspects of the relationships between the British and the inhabitants of this area which was called 'Yaghestan' at that time. But my purpose is not simply to offer a contribution to the regional history of a rather neglected part of the Western Himalaya in colonial times. More importantly, I intend to show how the British policy toward that country was entangled in rumours of local as well as almost global scale. Both local rumours, referring to revolts within the area, and global ones relating to the First World War, reporting that the German Kaiser together with his people had converted to Islam and joined the Turkish Caliph in jihad against the British, were perceived as highly threatening by the local British officers on the grounds of their construing the people of Yaghestan as most unreliable tribals, characterized especially by their 'fanatical' adherence to Islam. I will show that in spite of all intelligence efforts the British remained unable to subject these 'fanatical others' to the colonial regime of control and information. Rumour, as a multidirectional, uncontrolled form of communication, effectively intervened in the British strategies of power, rendering their colonial informational regime in that area almost impotent.

A Politics of Nudity: Photographs of the 'Naked Mru' of Bangladesh (pp341-374)
Willem Van Schendel (University of Amsterdam and International Institute of Social History)
This article uses photographs to explore the meanings of nudity in a district of Bangladesh. Throughout the colonial and postcolonial periods, photography was a major tool here in the framing of a confrontation between local and external cultural styles. In this confrontation, nudity was used as a visual marker of specific, but contradictory, local characteristics. It stood variously for primitivity, underdevelopment, indecency and indigeneity. In the dominant discourses, one group in particular, the Mru, was singled out to represent these characteristics. Photographs of the Mru reveal a politics of nudity which is illustrated here by exploring three themes: enforced authenticity, enforced decency, and folklorization. The article links these photographs with wider discussions about romantic views of the exotic, about Orientalist representations—not just by Northerners but also by Southern nationalist elites and post-colonial intellectuals—, about development, and about minority rights. It is argued that the case of this district, the Chittagong Hill Tracts, is particularly instructive because here a politics of nudity can be seen to have underpinned deeply intrusive policies of development, oppression, expulsion and war.

Opium and the British Indian Empire: The Royal Commission of 1895 (pp375-420)
John F. Richards (Duke University)
The primary aim of this article is to take a fresh look at the massive report of the Royal Commission on Opium of 1895. This document is one of the great Victorian inquiries devoted to the Indian Empire. In it we see displayed the cultural tensions and conflicts negotiated between British colonizers and Indian colonized subjects. Opium, like colonialism, is a sensitive and charged issue. The question of mood-altering drugs—opium, alcohol, tobacco, and cocaine, among others—is always fraught. Each society and culture is convinced that its own drugs of choice are normal and natural; and that those of other societies are depraved and unnatural. Generally each society and culture has drugs of choice that have been assimilated to its cultural practices. The pleasures of these familiar drugs are known; their dangers minimized by taboos and social rituals of consumption, and their damage contained and ignored. Similar adaptations in other cultures are invisible or, if seen, grotesque.

Emerging Media: Hong Kong and the Early Evolution of the Chinese Press (pp421-465)
Elizabeth Sinn (Centre of Asian Studies, The University of Hong Kong)
The newspaper has been a key element in China's modernization. A large body of literature on the history of China's modern press, works of varying degrees of accuracy and analytical depth, has been produced, and yet, there are still many gaps in our knowledge of its development. Here, I will discuss one newspaper, the Zhongwai xinwen qiribao (hereafter, the Qiribao), published between March 1871 and April 1872, to show how, at a very crucial stage of the press's development, Chinese journalists emerged from under the apprenticeship of Westerners and shaped this new medium to their own social, political and cultural needs.

Kita Ikki and the Politics of Coercion (pp467-490)
Christopher W. A. Szpilman (Takushoku University)
On a hot summer's day in August 1937, Kita Ikki, a pan-Asian visionary and political activist, was executed in the wake of the unsuccessful army rebellion of 26 February 1936, in which he had not participated. As he had stared at the barrels of the rifles of the execution squad, he must have reflected on the life he had led. Whether his last-minute reflections led to any conclusion, we cannot possibly know. It seems likely, however, that the meaning of his life eluded him in his last moments just as it has eluded the historians who have since striven to understand him.

Modern Asian Studies (2004)
Copyright ©2004 Cambridge University Press

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Posted with permission from the publisher.

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