South Asia

Organized Panel Session

60 - Domesticates of the Empire: Relocating Animal History in Colonial India

7/6/2018
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Gulmohar, First Floor

South Asia is home to a unique diversity of domesticated animals. As the backbone of British military expansion, India’s agrarian economy, and the dietary foundation of rising metropolises, many of these domesticates were central in the making and functioning of the British Empire. Thus far, historians have revealed how animals were deployed as cultural symbols in the racial and gendered discourses of Imperialism. Building upon this foundation, Domesticates of Empire will re-locate our analysis of South Asian animal history, by exploring how colonial representations and practices were defined by the social, ecological and behavioral geographies of animal domestication in India. Focusing on the military, agrarian, industrial and aquatic contexts, each panelist will interrogate how colonial policies influenced, negotiated with, and adapted to, the diverse and fluid motions of the non-human agency, revealing the partial and temporary reality of colonial discourses of mastery. From the war-torn Punjab-Afghan border to the fertile tracts of the Ganga Delta, the experimental government farmlands of Bangalore, and the waterscapes of the Madras Presidency, our panel will reconstruct historical understandings of domesticated species in the political, legal and scientific discourses of the colonial era. Drawing upon theoretical approaches to human-animal relations from historical, environmental and ethological disciplines, each paper will unveil the array of forces influencing domestication practices, which shaped perceptions of animals as an individual or common property; laborers or inhabitants; “indigenous” or foreign, colonized or independent.

Presentations:

Heeral Chhabra

University of Delhi, India

Presentation(s):

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Send Email for Lloyd Price

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Heeral Chhabra

University of Delhi, India

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Aarthi Sridhar

University of Amsterdam, India

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