Cultural Studies Adjunct: Michael Dodson

I am a historian of British imperialism in South Asia, focusing particularly upon the intellectual and cultural history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. My approach to South Asian history was forged under two very different mentors at the University of Cambridge. One, an imperial historian, urged upon me the wider, world contexts in which the British empire flourished, and the importance of making big arguments, while the other, a Sanskritist and philologer, emphasized the importance of a deep understanding of Indian language and culture, and never losing sight of the tenacity of South Asian cultural forms. My research work, and in particular, my first book, Orientalism, Empire, and National Culture: India 1770-1880, attempts to do justice to both these imperatives, by arguing that orientalism was a highly localized practice in India, with links to both the East India Company's governing authority, as well as the social consolidation of pandits (Indian "learned men"). I have worked extensively in the archives and libraries of India, and spend much of my research time in the north Indian city of Varanasi. Research projects I'm currently working on include an edited collection of nineteenth-century photographs and historical essays on Varanasi; a study of the evolution in British historical writing during the eighteenth century; and a book which explains the complex genealogies of Hindu nationalist thought on the topic of science and religion.

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