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Subject Lessons: The Western Education of Colonial India: Book by Sanjay Seth

Subject Lessons: The Western Education of Colonial India

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ISBN: 9780822341055    Publisher: Duke University Press Year of publishing: 2007     Format:  Paperback No of Pages: 296        
"Subject Lessons" is a provocative and insightful analysis of the reception of western education in colonial India. Beginning in 1835, British colonizers sought to promote modern, western knowledge in India,...Read more
"Subject Lessons" is a provocative and insightful analysis of the reception of western education in colonial India. Beginning in 1835, British colonizers sought to promote modern, western knowledge in India, primarily through schools. They anticipated that western knowledge would gradually replace indigenous ways of knowing, which they condemned as backwards. From the start, western education was endowed with great significance within India, not only by the colonizers but also by the colonized, to the extent that today almost all 'serious' knowledge about India - even within India - is based on western epistemologies.In "Subject Lessons", Sanjay Seth's investigation into how western knowledge was received by Indians under colonial rule becomes a broader inquiry into how modern, western knowledge came to be seen not merely as one way of knowing among others but as knowledge itself. Delving into a large archive of popular writings, and drawing on history, political science, and philosophy, Seth considers western education in India from various perspectives.He looks at two long-standing concerns of the colonizers: first, that Indian students were acquiring Western education via rote memorization and were therefore not acquiring 'true knowledge', and second, that western education plunged Indian students into a moral crisis in which they were torn between modern, western knowledge and traditional Indian beliefs.
Seth argues that these concerns reflected the colonizers' anxieties that western education was failing to produce the modern subjects it presupposed; this failure suggested that western knowledge was not the universal epistemology the colonists thought it to be. Turning to the production of collective identities, Seth illuminates the nationalists' position vis-a-vis western education - which they both sought and criticized - through analyses of discussions about the education of Muslims and women.
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