Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, History, University of Toronto / Scarborough

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2001
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Michigan
Social Communication and the Emergence of Modern Publics in Colonial South India, 1790-1850

Through an analysis of the everyday writing that permeated networks of social communication in early colonial south India, the proposed research analyses the formation of public realms of collective action and political imagination in non-European regions. I argue that writing and scribal communication permeates the oral and aural world. Its politics and culture questions the assumed centrality of print in creating public realms and nationalism. Its influence transgressed the divide between the colonial state and civil society. Its power affected lives of both the elite and the marginalized. More generally, its quotidian use cautions us from asserting a simple linear transition from the early modern to the modern world. Based on sources in the missionary and colonial archive, this study will bring a historian's perspective to the understanding of the practices of opinion making in colonized societies. It will contribute to current inter- disciplinary debates in post-colonial studies on public culture and civil societies, and to the growing literature on orality, literacy and the social construction/ circulation of texts.