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This book uses the story of one family and its legal battles to uncover relationships between religion, race, gender, identity, and personal law in south India in the first half of the 19th century. Matthew Abrahams was an Indian Roman Catholic of lowly background but increasing wealth.
Some years ago, in the midst of a conversation about tourism and travelling, a friend from one of Britain’s former colonies remarked how shocked she had been to see ‘white people begging’ during her first trip abroad to Australia.
Popular references to Calcutta (now Kolkata) – once the gleaming capital of British India – in Anglo-American contexts often conjure images of poverty, crowded city streets, unbearable traffic, smog, and residents that require a savior.
Despite the flurry of works over the past 20 years or so which have explored the course and consequences of colonial rule in India, and increasingly the impact that such rule had upon British society, the period before the Battle of Plassey has remained for the most part insulated from questions about the ideologies and operations of territorial governance.
The subject of sati – more commonly known to Anglophone readers as ‘suttee’, a term which was used by 18th- and 19th-century writers to signify the self-immolation of Hindu widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands (1) – has long been of interest to historians.
In September of 1934, an incredulous (or perhaps simply amused) Dutch official wrote from Batavia to his mentor in Leiden telling of the most incredible journey made by a family of Sundanese from West Java.
After lagging behind the field of British imperial studies, in the last decade the historiography of the French colonial empire has become an increasingly dynamic and rich field.
Mary Laven has established herself as a competent historian, writing on a variety of aspects centred on the Venetian Renaissance. The present book is the first contribution to take her out of Europe, at least in geographical terms.
In a 2009 review article on the study of Ireland’s relationship with the British Empire, Stephen Howe lamented the polarity of historiographical opinion surrounding the problems of Irish identity in a British imperial context.
Since the 1980s, secularism in India has been a topic of heated contestation. Advocates for a Hindu nation deride what they call ‘pseudo-secularism’, claiming that it privileges Muslim and Christian minorities against the interests of India’s Hindu majority. Religious minorities, however, consistently appeal to India’s secular constitution to secure their rights.