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Emotions and modernity in colonial India

Bush House, Strand Campus, London

23 Jan Emotions and Modernity in Colonial India Part of King's India Institute Seminar Series

Abstract: This talk investigates the experiences, interpretations and practices of emotions in India between 1857 and the First World War. It is based on a large archive of sources in Urdu, many explored for the first time.

These sources range from philosophical and theological treatises on questions of morality to advice literature, from journals to newspapers, from children’s literature to nostalgic descriptions of the courtly culture, from sermons to psychological essays.

Modernity for long has been viewed as a process that went along with a growing control over emotions – whether this control was regarded as linked to capitalism, to the modern bureaucratic state or interpreted as a process through which external control mechanisms moved inside the subject.

As the case studies of the book, 'Emotions and modernity in colonial India' show, this discipline has to be viewed together with the transformation from the ideal of balance and harmony to a desire for strong, visceral and even indomitable passions, showing the youthfulness and vigor of the community.

Men (and a little later also women) increasingly strove for an experience of these strong emotions and attempted to inculcate them in others as well, and they devised new languages and practices to bring about these feelings.

*If you are external to King's and would like to attend this event, please contact the event organiser directly

About the speaker

Margrit Pernau (University of Heidelberg) is Senior Researcher at the Centre for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

She has published extensively on modern Indian history, historical semantics, global history, and translation studies and the history of emotions.


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