© 2012

The Origins of Modern Historiography in India

Antiquarianism and Philology, 1780–1880

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Rama Sundari Mantena
    Pages 57-85
  3. Rama Sundari Mantena
    Pages 179-184
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 185-261

About this book


This book uncovers practices surrounding acts of collecting, surveying, and antiquarianism during British colonial rule in India. By examining these practices, this book traces the colonial conditions of the production of 'sources,' the forging of a new historical method, and the ascendance of positivist historiography in nineteenth-century India.


historiography history India philology

About the authors

RAMA SUNDARI MANTENA Assistant Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Chicago, USA.

Bibliographic information


'Mantena's argument that antiquarian research both chronological and philological conducted by British officers, missionaries, and their Indian collaborators in the early-colonial period led to the development of an interest in positive facts and thus contributed to the birth of the discipline of history in India is an original and significant addition to the contemporary literature on colonial knowledge. This book is destined to be important in Indian studies but it will also interest scholars who research the global history of historiography.' Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor, Department of History and Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, The University of Chicago and author of Provincializing Europe

'In this lucid historical ethnography of the origins of the colonial archive in British India, Rama Mantena calls for nothing less than a rethinking of the relationship between conquest and historiography. Drawing on high and low traditions, the 'little practices' of citation and collection and above all, the work of South Indians in the process of archive building, she re-materializes the pre-colonial worlds of Telugu print and oral cultures that helped to shape presumptively European forms of 'History' that infamous sign of the modern. Students of antiquarianism, philology, and orientalism will welcome this deep history, as will anyone who is genuinely interested in Gayatri Spivak's query, 'what is the fate of the historians' informant?'' Antoinette Burton, Catherine C. and Bruce A. Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies, Department of History, The University of Illinois, and author of Empire in Question