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Serving Empire, Serving Nation

James Tod and the Rajputs of Rajasthan


Jason Freitag

James Tod’s Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan was crucial in forming the modern image of the Rājpūt, a princely “martial” caste resident in India’s northwest desert. This book explores the relationships between the political power of the British imperial state, the construction of historical memories in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the uses of these constructions by European writers and Indian nationalist elites. The case of the Rajputs demonstrates how imperial histories reflected Indian social processes and pre-colonial forms of knowledge, interpreted India for the world outside and for Indians themselves. This book explores the multiple discourses within Tod’s Rajasthan, and European Orientalism, to show how intricately coded the British Empire was and, historically, remains.