Tod’s practice of science in India
Voyages through empirical, common sense
in Knowledge, mediation and empire
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Tod’s practice of science in India took place in the scientific context of the first two decades of the nineteenth century in Britain, which were the occasion of the institutionalisation of major earth sciences like topographical surveying, geology and botany. In India, colonial British scientists practised empirical field observations in these physical sciences in an overall framework of classifications and causatory explanations, inspired by the Common Sense philosophy of the Scottish Enlightenment. With the help of his British companions, his Indian assistants and Western scientific instruments, Tod recorded notations of relative topographical positions of places, geological formations and botanical specialities of the regions he traversed. Since he was not a trained scientist himself, Tod’s scientific remarks include utilitarian reflections on the economic potential of the natural resources of Rajasthan and Gujarat, but also show that in his own way he participated in the introduction of Western science into Indian contexts.

Knowledge, mediation and empire

James Tod’s journeys among the Rajputs




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