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"Bringing credit to the community and the country": Politics of Knowledge and Identity in the Khalsa College, Amritsar (c. 1890-1950)

English title "Bringing credit to the community and the country": Politics of Knowledge and Identity in the Khalsa College, Amritsar (c. 1890-1950)
Applicant Fischer-Tiné Harald
Number 159638
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Professur für Technikgeschichte D-GESS ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline General history (without pre-and early history)
Start/End 01.06.2015 - 30.11.2018
Approved amount 229'728.00
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Keywords (10)

global history; history of knowledge; colonial history; punjab; south asian history; history of education; sikhism; new imperial history; history; gender and masculinity

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Anhand der exemplarischen Untersuchung einer höheren Bildungsinstitution im spätkolonialen Indien leistet das Projekt einen Beitrag (a) zur kritischen Neubeurteilung der Sozial- und Kulturgeschichte indischer (Sub-)Nationalismen, (b) der Geschichte von transkulturellem Wissenstransfer (c) der transkulturellen Geschlechtergeschichte.
Lay summary

Das Projekt untersucht die Geschichte des Khalsa College in der britisch-indischen Provinz Panjab als Ort der Aushandlung religiöser, politischer und pädagogischer Agenden von den 1890er-Jahren bis ca. 1950. Das College wirkte als Plattform für die Diskussion kontroverser religiöser und politischer Ideen und spielte im Kontext zunehmend bedeutenderer religiös und ethnisch motivierte Identitätspolitiken eine wichtige Rolle. Eine detaillierte Analyse dieser Einrichtung verspricht interessante Einsichten, ermöglicht das Vorhaben doch die Untersuchung globalen Wissenstransfers und der Zirkulation pädagogischer Methoden sowie die Rekonstruktion historischer Transformationsprozesse von politischen, religiösen und Gender-Identitäten auf einer überschaubaren Mikroebene. 

Das Khalsa College wird dabei auf drei miteinander verknüpften analytischen Ebenen untersucht. Zum einen rekonstruiert es den gesellschaftlich-politischen Kontext, in welchem sich das College bewegte. Besonderes Augenmerk in der Analyse wird auf die (Neu-)Formulierung einer distinkten Sikh-Identität gelegt, wie sie insbesondere im frühen 20. Jahrhundert rege diskutiert wurde Auf einer zweiten Ebene beschäftigt sich die Studie mit den konkreten Wissensinhalten, welche die Bildungseinrichtung seinen Schülern zu vermitteln versuchte und den Formen Ihrer Vermittlung Die Analyse der curricularen und der extracurricularen Dimension von Bildung wird schliesslich auf einer dritten analytischen Ebene kombiniert durch eine Betrachtung der vermittelten Normen und Werte Die Studie will v.a. herausarbeiten, inwiefern das Khalsa College an der Propagierung und Festigung von Selbstrepräsentationen der Sikhs als maskuline ‚martial race‘ beteiligt war.

Das Projekt leistet einen Beitrag einerseits (a) zur kritischen Neubeurteilung der Sozial- und Kulturgeschichte indischer (Sub-)Nationalismen, (b) der Geschichte von transkulturellem Wissenstransfer (c) der transkulturellen Geschlechtergeschichte.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 20.04.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Roger D. Long and Ian Talbot (eds), India and World War I, A Centennial Assessment (New York: Routledge)
Brunner Michael (2019), Roger D. Long and Ian Talbot (eds), India and World War I, A Centennial Assessment (New York: Routledge), in H-Soz-Kult.
Elija Horn, Indien als Erzieher. Orientalismus in der deutschen Reformpädagogik und Jugendbewegung 1918-1932 (Bad Heilbrunn: Julius Klinkhardt, 2018)
Brunner Michael (2018), Elija Horn, Indien als Erzieher. Orientalismus in der deutschen Reformpädagogik und Jugendbewegung 1918-1932 (Bad Heilbrunn: Julius Klinkhardt, 2018), in H-Soz-Kult, 1.
Mark Condos, The Insecurity State: Punjab and the Making of Colonial Power in British India
BrunnerMichael (2018), Mark Condos, The Insecurity State: Punjab and the Making of Colonial Power in British India, in Reviews in History, March, 1-5.
‘Teaching Development: Debates on ‘Scientific Agriculture’ and ‘Rural Reconstruction’ at Khalsa College, Amritsar, c. 1915-1947’
BrunnerMichael (2018), ‘Teaching Development: Debates on ‘Scientific Agriculture’ and ‘Rural Reconstruction’ at Khalsa College, Amritsar, c. 1915-1947’, in ndian Economic and Social History Review, 55(1), 77-132.
‘Manly Sikhs & Loyal Citizens: Physical Education and Sport in the Khalsa College, Amritsar, 1914-1947’
BrunnerMichael (2018), ‘Manly Sikhs & Loyal Citizens: Physical Education and Sport in the Khalsa College, Amritsar, 1914-1947’, in outh Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 41(1), 33-50.
Konferenzbericht: “Transcending Boundaries. The Religious, the Secular, and Negotiations of Cultural Hierarchies in Turn-of-the Century Counter-Cultural Contexts between Europe, Asia, and Africa”, Sek
BrunnerMichael (2016), Konferenzbericht: “Transcending Boundaries. The Religious, the Secular, and Negotiations of Cultural Hierarchies in Turn-of-the Century Counter-Cultural Contexts between Europe, Asia, and Africa”, Sek, H-Soz-Kult, Berlin.
Ute Schüren, Daniel Marc Segesser und Thomas Späth (ed.), Globalized Antiquity. Uses and Perceptions of the Past in South Asia, Mesoamerica, and Europe (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 2015)
BrunnerMichael (2016), Ute Schüren, Daniel Marc Segesser und Thomas Späth (ed.), Globalized Antiquity. Uses and Perceptions of the Past in South Asia, Mesoamerica, and Europe (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 2015), in Internationales Asienforum [International Quarterly for Asian Studies], 47(1-2), 129-132.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Dr. Margrit Pernau, Max Planck Institute for Human Developement Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Sukhmani Bal Riar, Associate Professor at the Department of History of the Punjab University India (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Ian Talbot, Professor of Modern British History, University of Southhampton Australia (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Gajendra Singh, Lecturer of South Asian History, University of Exeter Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Annual Conference of the European Association for the Study of Religions Talk given at a conference "For the true light of the Sikh religion to shine in its full effulgence‘: Scientism, Universalism, and the Quest for a ‘Modern’ ‘Sikh’ Identity at Khalsa College, Amritsar, 1890-1947" 17.06.2018 Bern, Switzerland Brunner Michael Philipp;
Annual Conference Association for Asian Studies 2018 Talk given at a conference "For the True Light of the Sikh Religion to Shine in Its Full Effulgence‘: Teaching 'Modern Sikhism’ at Khalsa College, Amritsar, 1892-1947", 22.03.2018 Washington D.C., United States of America Fischer-Tiné Harald;
10th International Convention of Asia Scholars Talk given at a conference 'Hearken to the Voice of Science‘: Modern Education, Useful Knowledge, and Scientific Sikhism at Khalsa College, Amritsar, 1890-1947' 21.07.2017 Chiang Mai, China Brunner Michael Philipp;
Oberseminar Neuere und Neuste Geschichte Universität Bamberg Individual talk ‘"Manly Sikhs" and "Loyal Citizens": Politics of Knowledge and Identity at Khalsa College, Amritsar ca. 1890-1950“ 03.07.2017 Banberg, Germany Brunner Michael Philipp;
Summer School 2017, History of Education, Talk given at a conference ‘"Manly Sikhs" and "Loyal Citizens": Politics of Knowledge and Identity at Khalsa College, Amritsar ca. 1890-1950“, 09.06.2017 Porto Conto, Portugal Fischer-Tiné Harald;
Annual Workshop Chair History of the Modern World Talk given at a conference 'Teaching Rural Development: Khalsa College, Amritsar, and "Scientific" Agriculture, c. 1915-1947 24.03.2017 Winterthur, Switzerland Fischer-Tiné Harald; Brunner Michael Philipp;
Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development Berlin (Phd & Postdoc-Colloquium) Talk given at a conference "Manly Sikhs" and "Loyal Citizens": Politics of Knowledge and Identity at Khalsa College, Amritsar ca. 1890-1950" 23.11.2016 Berlin, Germany Brunner Michael Philipp;
European Conference on South Asian Studie Talk given at a conference „Manly Sikhs & Useful Citizens: Khalsa College, Amritsar, Physical Education and Sport, and the Sikh Youth in British India, 1892-1947” 27.07.2016 Warschau, Poland Brunner Michael Philipp;
Mitteldeutscher Südasientag [Middle-German South Asia Day], Universität Leipzig Individual talk „Manly Sikhs & Loyal Citizens: Das Khalsa College, Amritsar, koloniale Bildung und die Formation von Religion und Männlichkeit in Britisch-Indien, 1892-1947 02.06.2016 Leipzig, Germany Fischer-Tiné Harald;
National Seminar on ‘Society and Economy of 19th Century Punjab: Continuity and Change’, Guru Nanak Dev. University Talk given at a conference „The Khalsa College, Amritsar, and its Purposes: Challenges and Aspirations of the Sikh Community at the End of the 19th Century 25.03.2016 Amritsar, India Fischer-Tiné Harald;
48. Punjab History Conference, Punjabi University Talk given at a conference „Khalsa College, Amritsar, as a Subject of Historical Research: Perspectives and Possibilities”, 04.03.2016 Patiala, Pakistan Fischer-Tiné Harald;


Abstract

This research project will explore the history of the Khalsa College, Amritsar, in the British Indian province of Punjab as a site for the negotiation and contestation of religious, political, epistemic and pedagogical agendas from its initial phase in the 1880s to the end of the British rule in 1947.Heavily assisted by officials in the colonial government, this college was founded in 1892 by socio-religious Sikh reform organizations. It was the first college aiming to impart English education specifically to boys and young men from the religious community of the Sikhs. It subsequently became one of the most influential institutions in Sikh public life. While government influence dwindled rapidly together with the general Sikh loyalty towards British rule during the interwar period, the college continued to be a crucial site of elite formation as well as a platform where controversial religious and political questions were hotly debated. This aspect was particularly important during the endgame of the British Raj in India, when confrontational communitarian identity politics were intensifying. Unlike Muslim, Hindu or Christian missionary schools, the Khalsa College has not drawn much scholarly attention yet, although its importance is acknowledged by historians as well as among the Sikh community itself. This is unfortunate, as the analysis of this particular Sikh institution promises most insightful results, allowing to analyse global circulations of knowledge and pedagogical methods as well as to reconstruct the complex historical processes of the formation of political, religious and gender identities on a manageable micro scale.This project will examine the Khalsa College on three analytically separated but empirically interconnected levels. First, it establishes the socio-political context in which the institution functioned by analysing the Khalsa College’s contribution to religious and communal debates in the Punjab as well as to the formation of emerging elites and community leaders. One obvious focus will be on the (re)formulation of a distinctive Sikh identity, especially the societal establishment of the ‘orthodox’ Tat Khalsa ideal of Sikhism. The new community consciousness of the Sikhs will be analysed in its multifarious exchanges and contestations with the colonial authorities on one hand and of rivalling religious communities (Hindus and Muslims) on the other. Second, the study will scrutinise what kind of knowledge the institution imparted to its students and elucidate the various ways in which this was done during the turbulent late colonial period. How exactly and under the influence of which differing historical actors and interest groups, Indian as well as European, did the curricula in the college take shape? How were international discourses on "useful" knowledge and "efficient" pedagogical methods adapted to local circumstances and translated into the everyday practice in the classroom? Here, the project builds on and adds to recent research on knowledge production and transmission in transnational and global contexts. Finally, the project combines an analysis of the curricular and the extracurricular dimension of the education in the Khalsa College through an exploration of the norms and values transmitted to the student population in Amritsar. This inevitably raises questions of gender and race. As the Sikhs of the Punjab were widely perceived not only by government officials but also Indian and Sikh leaders as a so called "martial race", especially well fitted for army and police service, we will examine how the college in Amritsar might have propagated ideals of Sikh masculinity and belligerence on campus. Special attention will be given to the presentation of gender ideals in text books as well as to the role of physical education and competitive sports practiced in the school to bring about the "embodiment" of masculine Sikh identities. The study will be based on the examination of four sets of primary sources: the records of the institution itself, ego documents, correspondence and pamphlets by private persons and organizations somehow involved or interested in the affairs of the Khalsa College, the huge repertory of records from the provincial and central administrations of Punjab and British India, and finally newspapers from the English and ‘native’ press of Punjab.The study thus will contribute to (a) a critical re-evaluation of the social and cultural history of Indian nationalism(s), (b) a globally informed history of education and transcultural history of knowledge and c) transcultural gender history in general and the history of South Asian masculinities in particular.
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