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Tod's Rajast'han and the Boundaries of Imperial Rule in Nineteenth-Century India

  • Norbert Peabody (a1)
Extract

This essay concerns the labile boundary between the familiar and the exotic in an early nineteenth-century Orientalist text, entitled Annals and Antiquities of Rajast'han, by James Tod. Written by the first British political agent to the western Rajput states, Tod's Rajast'han, particularly the several chapters he devoted to the so-called ‘feudal system’ of Rajasthan, remained implicated in colonial policy toward western India for over a century. By situating Tod's Rajast'han in the specific circumstances in which it was written and then tracing the fate of that text against a historical background, this essay aims to restore an open-ended, historical sensibility to studies on Orientalism that most critics of Orientalist writing have ironically forfeited in their laudable efforts to restore history to the indigenous peoples who have been the objects of Orientalist discourse.

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