James Tod’s journeys among the Rajputs

James Tod (1782-1835) spent twenty-two years in India (1800-1822), during the last five of which he was Political Agent of the British Government in India to the Western Rajput States in north-west India. His book studies Tod’s relationships with particular Rajput leaders and with the Rajputs as a group in general, in order to better understand his attempts to portray their history, geographical moorings and social customs to British and European readers. The book highlights Tod’s apparently numerous motivations in writing on the Rajputs: to bring knowledge about the Rajputs into European circles, to demonstrate that the Rajputs maintained historical records from the early middle ages and were thus not a primitive people without awareness of their own history, and to establish possible ethnic links between the warrior-like Rajputs and the peoples of Europe, as also between the feudal institutions of Rajputana and Europe. Fierce criticisms in Tod’s time of his ethnic and institutional hypotheses about connections between Rajputs and Europeans illustrate that Tod’s texts did not leave his readers indifferent.

The approach adopted uses available documents to go beyond a binary opposition between the colonisers and the colonised in India, by focusing on traces of friendly exchanges between Tod and his British colleagues on the one hand, and on the other hand, various members of the kingdoms of western India, with whom they interacted. Under themes like landscape, anthropology, science, Romantic literature, approaches to government policy, and knowledge exchanges in India and in London, this volume analyses Tod’s role as a mediator of knowledge through his travels across a little-known part of the British Empire in the early 19th century.

Despite their common Scottish origin, James Mill (1773–1836) and James Tod (1782–1835) were poles apart in their perception and approach of things Indian. James Mill grew up in Montrose and Aberdeen and only moved to London in 1802 at the age of twenty-nine, after seven years of university education, where he came into contact with leaders of the Scottish Enlightenment

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James Tod’s role in knowledge exchanges with the Rajputs

In a context of the expanding presence of the East India Company in India in the early decades of the nineteenth century, James Tod (1782–1835) had the opportunity to be in close contact with the Rajputs in central and northwestern India between 1800 and 1822. He chose to learn their language (a dialect of Urdu) and to observe their way of life, their history and their social

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Voyages through empirical, common sense

The first two decades of the nineteenth century, when James Tod was in India, 1 was a period of great changes in the field of science in Britain, in particular with the institutionalisation of botany and geology in British universities, learned societies, botanical gardens and museums. 2 The British colonial authorities in India, who had been expanding their territorial domination through a

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Tod’s sympathetic understanding of Rajput difference

honoured through the documents and objects he bequeathed to the Royal Asiatic Society of London in his will. Upon Tod’s death in November 1835, 12 the Council of the Royal Asiatic Society, which assembled on 6 February 1836, 13 recognised receipt of Mrs James Tod’s letter making known Tod’s donation to the Royal Asiatic Society of all his books and manuscripts and coins on

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scholarly information in India. One of the earliest documents that mentions Tod’s existence is his baptism certificate, dated 11 February 1799, and signed by the vicar of Islington of that time, G. Abraham, certifying that James Tod, son of James Tod and Mary [Heatly], born on 19 March 1782, had been baptised in Islington Church [near London] on 5 May 1782. 1 The date of the baptism certificate, February

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–9, Council of 15 March 1824: Tod was elected as a Member of Council of the RAS; folios 85–8, Council of 16 April 1825: Tod was confirmed as the RAS librarian. 2 James Tod, Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan , vol. I, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1829; repr. Delhi: Rupa & Co., 1997, p. xviii

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Trying to understand

two-way negotiation involved in the discursive construction of difference. 3 Figures showing various occupations. Engraving by Edward Finden of a miniature after an unknown Indian artist’s original, formerly owned by James Tod. (By kind

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, 2nd edn, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees & Orme, 1804 –8, 3 vols, octavo. 8 Jason Freitag, ‘Travel, history, politics and heritage: James Tod’s ‘Personal Narrative’”, in: Carol E. Henderson and Maxine Weisgrau (eds), Raj Rhapsodies: Tourism, Heritage and the Seduction of History , Aldershot

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The years during which James Tod was in central and western India (1800–22), as also the years when he wrote the accounts of his experiences in India after his return to London (1823–35), were years of economic, political, aesthetic and scientific transformation in Great Britain and Europe. The Industrial Revolution in Britain was changing the traditional rural, agricultural

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