© 2017

India in the American Imaginary, 1780s–1880s

  • Anupama Arora
  • Rajender Kaur
  • Discusses a breadth of materials ranging from paintings to missionary tracts to literary texts by writers such as Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, and Maria Susanna Cummins

  • Offers a vast appeal to scholars interested in American Studies, Asian Studies, South Asian Studies, Asian-American Studies, transatlantic studies, and postcolonial studies

  • Breaks open a scholarly discussion that has been neglected about the shifting American attitudes towards India from 1780-1880


Part of the The New Urban Atlantic book series (NUA)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiii
  2. India in the American Imaginary: Indo-American Encounters, 1780s–1880s

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Rajender Kaur, Anupama Arora
      Pages 3-37
  3. Transatlantic Imperial Circuits: Trade, Missionary Activity, and the British East India Company

  4. The Imperial Imaginary: Indo-American Interactions in the Literary, Philosophical, and Political Sphere

  5. Imperial Publics: India in U.S. Reform Debates on Race, Slavery, and Labor

  6. Orientalist Imaginings: Royal India and American Fine Arts and Painting

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 245-245
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 283-292

About this book


This book seeks to frame the “the idea of India” in the American imaginary within a transnational lens that is attentive to global flows of goods, people, and ideas within the circuits of imperial and maritime economies in nineteenth century America (roughly 1780s-1880s). This diverse and interdisciplinary volume – with essays by upcoming as well as established scholars – aims to add to an understanding of the fast changing terrain of economic, political, and cultural life in the US as it emerged from being a British colony to having imperial ambitions of its own on the global stage. The essays trace, variously, the evolution of the changing self-image of a nation embodying a surprisingly cosmopolitan sensibility, open to different cultural values and customs in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century to one that slowly adopted rigid and discriminatory racial and cultural attitudes spawned by the widespread missionary activities of the ABCFM and the fierce economic pulls and pushes of American mercantilism by the end of the nineteenth century. The different uses of India become a way of refining an American national identity.


Orientalism Nineteenth-Century America Edwin Lord Weeks India and American Mercantilism Indo-American trade in the nineteenth century American missionaries in nineteenth-century India British East India Company Herman Melville American reaction to Indian Mutiny

Editors and affiliations

  • Anupama Arora
    • 1
  • Rajender Kaur
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Massachusetts DartmouthNorth DartmouthUSA
  2. 2.William Paterson University of New JerseyWayneUSA

About the editors

Anupama Arora is Associate Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts, USA.

Rajender Kaur is Associate Professor of English at William Paterson University of New Jersey, USA, where she teaches courses in postcolonial, Asian American, British, and World literatures.

Bibliographic information


“India in the American Imaginary reject monolithic explanation and provide diverse and new perspectives on how Europeans or Americans related to Indians and Indian culture and society. These images and interactions are contextualized in realms … thereby making them appealing to the interest of students and scholars in many disciplines.” (Tara Sethia, Journal of World History, Vol. 30 (4), December, 2019)