Cultural transactions
The letter and the gift
in Welsh missionaries and British imperialism
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On his tours through the hills, Thomas Jones encountered many villages where the inhabitants had not set eyes on a European since the British had taken possession of the region in the 1820s. John Roberts in Liverpool brokered the supply of gifts and supplies; the paper correspondence between the mission secretary and his field agents was itself a material and symbolic transaction of personal and professional power and authority. In accepting the missionary's gifts, the headmen were actively manipulating the introduction of new material goods as part of their own tactics of control and modernisation. In the space between how gifts were given and how they were received by the Khasis, however, lies a transvaluation of the meaning of the objects. Letters were important lifelines in maintaining professional and personal relationships. The exchange of letters between Jones and Roberts reinforced the physical separation between the two men.

Welsh missionaries and British imperialism

The Empire of Clouds in north-east India


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