History Seminar Series: Dr Mahesh Gopalan, "The Historian and the City" | Shiv Nadar University
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History Seminar Series: Dr Mahesh Gopalan, "The Historian and the City"

The early histories of Madras city by Talboys Wheeler (1861), Manaly Mudeliar (1882), Frank Penny (1900), and H.D. Love (1913) establish a detailed outline of urban expansion under the English East India Company and, subsequently, the British Crown. These histories map the growth of the politically important city in the region alongside the rising fortunes of English Colonial power. Such a linear political narrative offers a template where the older ‘medieval’ is transformed into a new colonial ‘modern’. These ideas of linear transitions to the colonial ‘modern’ was reinforced during the tricentenary celebrations of the founding of Madras. The historian C.S. Srinivasachari, who published a new and updated history of Madras on this occasion, upheld this framework and extended it till the 1930s. Since the 1940s, these histories have established Madras as a distinct urban space in the region, enumerated through a religious, political and social geography that connects it with the Tamil-speaking regions of the presidency. This paper will argue that in doing so, these works seamlessly integrated social and cultural the prejudices from the past, which had been carefully nurtured and promoted by the colonial state. I examine some of the prejudices to show how these histories used religion, economy, caste, and region to condition a distinct memory of the early colonial period and fashion a unique idea of the presidency and of the city.


Event Date: 
Thursday, September 12, 2019 -

Dr. Mahesh Gopalan is Assistant Professor in History at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University. He is the co-editor of ‘East India Company, 1600-1857: essays on Anglo-Indian connections’, published by Routledge in 2016. He has also contributed papers to several edited books. In 2014 Dr. Gopalan was awarded the Charles Wallace India Trust award to undertake the research project titled ‘Overseeing and regulating urban growth in 18th century Madras: the English East India Company and the Protestant Church in Madras.’

Thursday 12, Sep 2019
12:00 PM - 02:00 PM
D 330