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India and the British Empire$
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Douglas M. Peers and Nandini Gooptu

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199259885

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199259885.001.0001

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Knowledge Formation in Colonial India

Knowledge Formation in Colonial India

(p.75) 4 Knowledge Formation in Colonial India
India and the British Empire

Norbert Peabody

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that it is no longer tenable to insist that the forms of knowledge through which colonial rule was established were fully European in origin and development but, rather, they were created out of conditions that entailed considerable collaboration — intended and unintended, conscious and unconscious, wanted and unwanted — between the British and, at least, certain key indigenous groups. These Indian groups were often able to harness, redirect, and shape aspects of the emergent forms of knowledge that were being created during the colonial encounter in order to establish and/or deepen a privileged position in local society that itself was divided along various lines including class, status, party and gender. By working through and, in some cases, beyond conditions of possibility raised by the colonial encounter, Indian actors exercised substantial, but often unacknowledged, agency in the formation of colonial knowledge.

Keywords:   orientalism, knowledge systems, discourse theory, governmentality, agency, colonial India

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