Indian Muslims and India
When Flora Annie Steel published India in 1905 it had been 17 years since her residence there as part of the official Anglo-Indian community had ended, and almost 40 years since she first became acquainted with her subject.1 Sold primarily on the back of her phenomenal success as a writer of fiction for an equally Anglo-Indian and Metropolitan audience, it offered the prospective British traveller a poetic conspectus of Indian history, contemporary social ethnography and ‘insider’ shopping tips, packaged with all the proprietorial assurance of a seasoned India ‘hand’. Though rooted in the 1870s and 1880s during which her experience of the country was formed, Steel’s description of twentieth-century colonial India was to survive as a serviceable guide to its contemporary indigenous society for almost 20 years.2 Nowhere was its idiosyncratic Anglo-Indian perspective more surely displayed — and trusted by her readers — than with her depiction of the Muslims of India, a strata of Indian society set at the heart of her most popular novels.3 Indeed, as this study will demonstrate, such a portrait could only have been written by one so intimately bound up with the peculiar emphases of the post-‘Mutiny’ Raj.
KeywordsSedimentation Social Stratification Arena Nial Stake
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