Since arriving at Rhodes in 1988 I have offered courses in modern European and South Asian history. Many of these reflect my scholarly interest in colonialism and its impact on both colonizer and colonized. Among the topics courses I offer are seminars on Gandhi and the imperial idea. I also enjoy teaching a two-semester survey of South Asia from the Indus Valley Civilization to Bollywood. The past eight years I have participated in a British Empire Learning Community. Students in the learning community are first-year, first-semester students who enroll in my course on the British empire and a literature course focusing on imperialism offered by Michael Leslie, professor of English and Dean of Rhodes’ British Studies at Oxford program. Besides these two courses, students attend special lectures and view movies related to the two courses. Some of the students also participate in an undergraduate symposium on British studies that takes place annually at Rhodes or one of the colleges in our consortium. I also encourage students to enroll in our Oxford program, which takes place every summer under the direction of Dean Leslie and in which I teach regularly.
The intellectual encounters produced by modern European imperialism have dominated my research agenda these past two decades. My first book examines John Stuart Mill’s career in the London offices of the East India Company. It traces parallels between his views about administering India and his famous intellectual development. I develop this idea further in a follow-up essay, contributed to a volume on Mill and India that I also co-edited. Here I argue that the submerged voices of Indians can be found in the imperial discourse that influenced Mill’s thinking on education, public opinion, and the role of women.
Indian education is the topic of my third book, a collection of documents relating to the debate among British administrators whether to support classical Indian education or one based on western knowledge and the English language. This volume brings together thirty documents, including some never before published. One of these is a draft memo by J. S. Mill criticizing T. B. Macaulay’s argument for restricting government funding to English-language education only. My co-editor—Martin Moir—and I challenge the idea that educational policy was solely an invention of colonial administrators by uncovering the significant contributions of Indians to this famous debate.
My most recent project was Rammohun Roys’s visit to England in the early 1830s. Famous to South Asians as a social and religious reformer, and early nationalist, Rammohun was also a celebrity in Britain and the American republic by the 1820s. My book examines the reasons for his fame, using these to trace key developments in religion, political reform, and early feminism among contemporary Britons. Rammohun’s celebrity, I argue, is a mirror in which the making of modern Britain is reflected. My book also explores how Rammohun sought to provincialize England by criticizing its slow progress towards rational religion and by praising republican nations such as the United States.
I have also published articles on various topics, including J. S. Mill and the Irish question; peasant desertions in western India during the transition from Maratha to British rule; the role of sexual intimacy in the creation of colonial knowledge; and the linked efforts by Rammohun Roy and Thomas Jefferson to create a personalized version of the New Testament.
My next major project will be a study of J. G. Herder, whose eighteenth-century writings on colonialism and culture anticipate many aspects of postcolonial thought. Family ties have enabled me to acquire a first-hand acquaintance with the story of the two Germanys. Thanks to a DAAD research grant and a visiting professorship at Konstanz Universität, I have begun to develop research interests in German intellectual and colonial history. An article on J. G. Herder’s surprisingly postcolonial writings is in the works.
B.A., Dickinson State College, 1975
M.A., University of Texas, 1977
Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1985
History 105 – Introductory Seminar: British Empire Through Film
History 215 – Europe, 1714-1815
History 224 – British Empires and Its Enemies
History 225 – Modern Britain
History 293 – Ancient and Medieval India
History 294 – Modern India
History 391 – Gandhi
History 485 – Senior Seminar
John Stuart Mill and India (Stanford University Press, 1994)
J. S. Mill’s Encounter with India, co-edited with Douglas Peers and Martin Moir (University of Toronto Press, 1999)
The Great Indian Education Debate, co-edited with Martin Moir (Curzon Press, 1999)
Rammohun Roy and the Making of Victorian Britain (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010)
“‘Notorious and Convicted Mutilators’: Rammohun Roy, Thomas Jefferson, and the Bible,” Journal of World History 20, 3 (2009): 399-434 (forthcoming)
“Intimacy and Colonial Knowledge,” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 3, 2 (2002) – Ejournal
“Defining Christians, Making Britons: Rammohun Roy and the Unitarians,” Victorian Studies 44, 2 (2002): 215-43
“Englische Erziehung und indische Modernität,” trans. David Bruder and Margot Lueck-Zastoupil, Geschichte und Gesellschaft 28 (2002): 5-32