Migrant races

Empire, Identity and K. S. Ranjitsinhji

Editor: Satadru Sen

This book is a study of mobility, image and identity in colonial India and imperial Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is a model for studies of migrant figures like K.S. Ranjitsinhji who emerged during the imperial period. Ranjitsinhji is an important figure in the history of modern India and the British empire because he was recognized as a great athlete and described as such. The book focuses on four aspects of Ranjitsinhji's life as a colonial subject: race, money, loyalty and gender. It touches upon Ranjitsinhji's career as a cricketer in the race section. The issue of money gave Indian critics of Ranjitsinhji's regime the language they needed to condemn his personal and administrative priorities, and to portray him as self-indulgent. Ranjitsinhji lived his life as a player of multiple gender roles: sometimes serially, and on occasion simultaneously. His status as a "prince" - while not entirely fake - was fragile enough to be unreliable, and he worked hard to reinforce it even as he constructed his Englishness. Any Indian attempt to transcend race, culture, climate and political place by imitating an English institution and its product must be an unnatural act of insurgency. The disdain for colonial politics that was manifest in the "small rebellions" at the end of the world war converged with the colonized/Indian identity that was evident at the League of Nations. Between the war and his death, it is clear, Ranjitsinhji moved to maximize his autonomy in Nawanagar.

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