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SAP Seminar Series: "‘European Knowledge in Indian Tongues’: Delhi College and the Politics of Translation in Colonial India" by Osama Siddiqui

Monday, March 12, 2018 at 12:15pm to 1:30pm

Uris Hall, G08
Central Campus

In the 1830s and 1840s, Delhi College was the center of a vibrant culture of translation. Works such as James Mill’s Political Economy, Euclid’s Elements, Oliver Goldsmith’s History of England, and many others were translated into Urdu. How did Indian scholars make sense of these works and what discursive choices did they make to translate them into Urdu? This paper explores these questions by examining the institutional space of Delhi College and the debates surrounding the Vernacular Translation Society. The paper suggests that these translations were part of a broader restructuring of Indian education in the early nineteenth century, which marked a shift towards vernacular languages, dissemination of Western texts, and modes of learning that privileged individual reading as opposed to training under an established teacher. In doing so, this paper argues that questions of translation were central to the new intellectual and educational order that emerged in early nineteenth century colonial India.

Osama Siddiqui is a PhD student in the Department of History. He studies Modern South Asia and the British Empire, with a focus on intellectual history, including histories of economic thought, language, and translation. Bringing these interests together, his dissertation explores how Indian scholars translated European economic ideas into Indian languages in the nineteenth century. His dissertation research has been funded by the Social Science Research Council and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian & Asian American Center, South Asia Program, History




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Valerie Foster Githinji

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