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COLONIAL ETHNOGRAPHY ON INDIA'S NORTH-WEST FRONTIER, 1850–1910*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2016

ZAK LEONARD
Affiliation:
University of Chicago
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Seeking to challenge the totalizing theory of an ‘ethnographic state’, this article examines a mid-nineteenth-century paradigm shift that impacted the colonial study of borderland populations along India's North-West Frontier. While the establishment of metropolitan ethnographic societies in the 1870s facilitated the rise of socio-cultural evolutionism, colonial agents also utilized folklore and proverb studies to represent the borderland societies as dynamic cultural entities reactive to British encroachment. Four case-studies, moreover, demonstrate that a variety of motivations compelled colonial agents to produce ethnographic material. These factors included personal scholarly ambition, political activism, and a commitment to transregional ‘scientific’ data collection projects. This study complicates the relationship between knowledge production and state power by reasserting the significance of personality as an operative force in the formation of colonial discourse.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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Footnotes

*

I would like to thank Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, Deborah Cohen, and the participants of the Newberry Seminar in British History for their constructive feedback. Additional thanks are due to Kyle Gardner and Gautham Reddy for their input on earlier drafts, as well as the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.

References

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2 I will be using the descriptor ‘Pathan’ instead of ‘Pashtun’ or ‘Pakhtun’ due to the ubiquity of this term in the colonial literature.

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4 Magnus Marsden and B. D. Hopkins, Fragments of the frontier (London, 2011), pp. 66–9.

5 By ‘frontier’, I am referring generally to the trans-Indus districts, although both Bellew and Thorburn were somewhat mobile in their professional capacities.

6 This approach is informed by Thomas Trautmann's study of the orientalist intellectual networks that contributed to the formulation of the Dravidian proof. See Trautmann, Languages and nations: the Dravidian proof in colonial Madras (Berkley, CA, 2006).

7 Nicholas B. Dirks, Castes of mind: colonialism and the making of modern India (Princeton, NJ, 2001), p. 196.

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12 Ibid., p. 33.

Ibid

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20 Ibid., p. 1.

Ibid

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24 ‘Important question of copyright’, Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet and General Advertiser, 22 May 1863. For further information on Raverty's commercial woes, see Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, ‘Henry George Raverty and the colonial marketing of Pashto’, in Cynthia Talbot, ed., Knowing India: colonial and modern constructions of the past (New Delhi, 2011), pp. 84–107.

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Ibid

28 Ibid., p. 58.

Ibid

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33 Ibid., p. 98.

Ibid

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38 Mountstuart Elphinstone, An account of the kingdom of Caubul and its dependencies (London, 1815), p. 211.

39 B. D. Hopkins, The making of modern Afghanistan (New York, NY, 2008), p. 14.

40 H. W. Bellew, Journal of a political mission to Afghanistan in 1857 (London, 1862), p. 28.

41 Sarah F. D. Ansari, Sufi saints and state power: the pirs of Sind, 1843–1947 (Cambridge, 1992), passim.

42 H. W. Bellew, A general report on the Yusufzais (repr., Lahore, 1977), p. 101.

43 Ibid., p. 161.

Ibid

44 Ibid., p. 187.

Ibid

45 Ibid., p. 151.

Ibid

46 Bellew, Races of Afghanistan, p. 82.

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49 Bellew, A general report on the Yusufzais, p. 205.

50 H. W. Bellew, From the Indus to the Tigris (repr., Karachi, 1977), p. 4.

51 General H. B. Lumsden, ‘Remarks on Sir H. Rawlinson's memorandum on Central Asia’, in Correspondence respecting the relations between the British government and that of Afghanistan since the accession of Shere Ali Khan (C 2190) (London, 1878), p. 47.

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59 Dirks, Castes of mind, 194.

60 Richard C. Temple, ‘The administrative value of anthropology’, in Anthropology as a practical science (London, 1914), p. 18.

61 William Crooke, ‘Scientific ethnography in northern India’, in E. Delmar Morgan, ed., Transactions of the Ninth International Congress of Orientalists (2 vols., London, 1893), ii, p. 882.

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63 Ballantyne, Orientalism and race, p. 53.

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79 Thorburn, Bannu, p. 141.

80 Ibid., p. 164.

Ibid

81 Ibid., p. 297.

Ibid

82 Ibid., p. 323.

Ibid

83 Ibid., p. 36.

Ibid

84 Ibid., p. 279.

Ibid

85 S. S. Thorburn, The Punjab in peace and war (Edinburgh and London, 1904), p. 339. Thorburn was compelled to issue an apology for this comment, as it was construed as an ‘attack on the government’.

86 S. S. Thorburn, Asiatic neighbours (Edinburgh and London, 1894), p. 170.

87 Thorburn, Bannu, p. 233.

88 Ibid., p. 234.

Ibid

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91 J. Long, Eastern proverbs and emblems (Edinburgh, 1881), p. 6.

92 Thorburn, The Punjab in peace and war, p. 166.

93 Ibid., p. 245.

Ibid

94 Thorburn, Asiatic neighbours, p. 19.

95 Thorburn, Bannu, p. 50.

96 Malcolm Darling, The Punjab peasant in prosperity and debt (Oxford, 1928), p. 1.

97 Wheeler, Stephen, ‘Asiatic neighbours’, Academy, 46 (15 Dec. 1894), p. 506Google Scholar.

98 Dames served mostly in the trans-Indus Dera Ghazi Khan district of the Punjab.

99 Darmesteter, James, ‘Afghan life in Afghan songs’, in The Contemporary Review, 52 (London, 1887), p. 453Google Scholar.

100 Ibid., p. 454.

Ibid

101 Ibid., p. 476.

Ibid

102 Afghan life in Afghan songs’, Science, 10 (21 Oct. 1887), pp. 195–6, at p. 195Google Scholar.

103 M. Longworth Dames, Popular poetry of the Baloches (London, 1907), p. xxxix.

104 Ibid., p. xxix.

Ibid

105 Thorburn, Bannu, p. 173.

106 Dames, Popular poetry, p. 54.

107 M. Longworth Dames, The Baloch race (London, 1904), p. 31.

108 Dames, Popular poetry, p. 100.

109 Ibid., p. 194.

Ibid

110 Ibid., p. xxix.

Ibid

111 Farina Mir, The social space of language (Berkeley, CA, 2010), p. 103.

112 Trautmann, Aryans and British India, p. 228.

113 Rama Mantena, The origins of modern historiography in India: antiquarianism and philology, 1780–1880 (New York, NY, 2012), p. 125.

114 Wolfe, Settler colonialism, p. 158.

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