India in Early Modern English Travel Writings: Protestantism, Enlightenment, and Toleration

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India in Early Modern English Travel Writings: Protestantism, Enlightenment, and Toleration | Rita Banerjee

India in Early Modern English Travel Writings: Protestantism, Enlightenment, and Toleration

Rita Banerjee

Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions, 226


July 2021


xii, 276 pages

Comparing the variant ideologies of the representations of India in seventeenth-century European travelogues, India in Early Modern English Travel Narratives concerns a relatively neglected area of study and often overlooked writers. Relating the narratives to contemporary ideas and beliefs, Rita Banerjee argues that travel writers, many of them avid Protestants, seek to negativize India by constructing her in opposition to Europe, the supposed norm, by deliberately erasing affinities and indulging in the politics of disavowal. However, some travelogues show a neutral stance by dispassionate ethnographic reporting, indicating a growing empirical trend. Yet others, influenced by the Enlightenment ideas of diversity, demonstrate tolerance of alien practices and, occasionally, acceptance of the superior rationality of the other's customs.

Rita Banerjee, PhD (1997, Northern Illinois University) is research scholar at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. She has published articles, book chapters, and a monograph on early modern literature, and recently edited the collection Cultural Histories of India (Routledge, 2020).

List of Illustrations

 1 Evolution of the Genre through Antiquity and the Middle Ages to the Renaissance
 2 Present Volume: Aims, Content, and Methodology
 3 Prior Texts in the Area

The Travel Writers: Audience, Ideology, and Class

The Mughal Court over the Years: Riches, Festivities, Law, and Governance
 1 Hawkins and Jahangir’s Court
 2 Thomas Roe’s Construction of the Mughal Court
 3 Mughal Festivities and Show of Riches: Roe and Bernier
 4 European Witnesses to the Weighing Ceremonies of the Emperors: Roe, Coryat, Terry, and Thévenot
 5 Barbarity and the Mughal Court

India: A Seventeenth-Century Trading Destination
 1 Profitability of Indian Trade
 2 Impediments to EIC Trade and Complaints of Corruption
 3 Growth of EIC Trade over the Years: Removal of Impediments
 4 Trade, Colonization, and Use of Force
 5 EIC: Monopoly, Interloping, and Private Trade

Reason and Religion during the Enlightenment in England: Scientific Enquiry, Deism, and Toleration
 1 Empiricism, Mathematical Inquiry, and Natural Philosophy: Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, and the Royal Society
 2 John Locke, the Rejection of Innate and Universal Ideas, and Diversity of Customs
 3 Faith, Reason, and Toleration
 4 Toleration and Protestant Colonization
 5 Rise of Deism or Natural Religion and Toleration
 6 Jesuit “Accommodation,” Universal Religion, and Toleration

Religion, Society, and Customs in India
 1 Islam and Falsehood: Mughal Court and Christian Doctrine
 2 Terry, Gentile Religion, and Grace
 3 From Courtly Religion to the Practice of the Masses: Hindu Temples, Gods and Goddesses
 4 Gentile Religion and Monotheism: Jesuits and Other European Travelers
 5 Caste, Pollution, and Ethnography

Women in India: The “Sati” and the Harem
 1 “Sati”
 2 The Harem

European Historiography and Mughal Reign
 1 Roe and Jahangir’s Reign
 2 Succession War during Shah Jahan’s Reign
 3 French Representations of the War of Succession: Bernier and Tavernier
 4 Comparing Manucci and Bernier
 5 John Ogilby’s Version of the Fratricidal War
 6 English Valor and Indian Barbarity

Conclusion: Constructing Selves and Others
 1 Barbarity, Racism, and Alienness


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