Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ilbert Bill: Mrinalini Sinha's article

Mrinalini Sinha, "Chathams, Pitts, and Gladstones in Petticoats: The Politics of Gender and Race in the Ilbert Bill Controversy, 1883-1884." From Western Women and Imperialism, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.

Bill introduced on February 9, 1883, to correct a racially discriminatory clause from the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1872.

Quote from Sinha: "On 25 January 1884, after almost a year of conflict, Act 111 of 1884 was finally passed. However, the spirit of the Ilbert Bill had been compromised. Even though native officials were granted limited criminal jurisdiction over European British subjects living in the districts under their charge, the Anglo-Indians had won a substantial victory: they were assured the right to demand a trial by jury at least half of whose members were European British subjects themselves." (98)

Primary source quotes:
Flora MacDonald: "Hindoo women are degraded, they are totally devoid of all delicacy, their ideas and language are course [sic] and vulgar, their term of reproach and abuses are gross and disgusting in the extreme. Although they manifest much shyness and outward modesty there is little real virtue of the higher order among them." (quoted 100. Englishman 26 April 1883, p.2)

R.H. Wilson, magistrate of Midnapore: "Is it likely that time will ever come when Englishmen in India or elsewhere will acquiesce in a measure subjecting their wives and daughters to the criminal jurisdiction of Judges whose ideas on the subject of women and marriage are not European but Oriental?" (quoted 100)

A senior Anglo-Indian officer of the Indian army: "Many English officers have English servant girls attached to their families; a native Magistrate, puffed up with importance might set eyes upon one of the girls and make overtures to her. If she refused, as she probably would do, what would be easier than for this native, acting under the smart of disappointment to bring a case against the girl to be tried in his court? A few annas would bribe all the native servants of the household and we might guess the result. (quoted 100-101)

Flora MacDonald again: "Englishmen try to picture to yourselves a mofussil court, hundreds of miles away from Calcutta--in that court a Native Magistrate is presiding with the supercilious assurance that a native assumes when he has an Englishman in his power. Before that man stands an English girl in all her maidenly dignity; she has been accused by her ayah for revenge of a loathsome crime, a crime that is common among native women; the court is crowded with natives of all castes who have flocked to hear an English girl being tried for an offence; this motley crowd laugh and jeer; and stare that English girl in the face; and spit on the ground to show her the contempt they have for the female sex; scores of witnesses are present to give evidence; a native Doctor has also been hired for that occasion; witnesses are cross-examined by a native pleader; the most irrelevant questions are asked, questoins that only a native dare to ask. Picture to yourself that girl's agony of shame! By her stands her only protector, a widowed mother, who has not the means wherewith to secure the protection and counsel of her countrymen. That innocent girl so kind, so affectionate, so loving, the stay of her widowhood, must go from the court with shame, with a blighted name....It cannot be that Englishmen renowned for chivalry are willing to subject even the humblest of their countrywomen to dishonour. (Quoted 101; 13 March 1883, p. 2)

Historical event: trial of Mrs. James Hume in Calcutta. Allegedly assaulted by her former employee, a sweeper called Hurroo Mehter. Convicted on 30 July 1883.

Allahabad-based newspaper, Pioneer

Calcutta-based newspaper, The Englishman (later merged with The Statesman)

A counter-argument in The Statesman: "The time is out of joint . . . incidents which, in ordinary times, would have no political significance, are now being seized upon on all hands, and a political significance is attributed to them which, whether it rightly belongs to them or not, has the same effect upon the public mind as if it did." (quoted 103; Statesman 25 June 1883, p. 2)

Edward Stanhope in the House of Commons, complains of the "horrible outrages upon English lades in Calcutta and Howrah." Response from a Mr. O'Donnell, "Whilst he is on the subject, could not the Honorary Gentleman obtain a statement of annual number of outrages on English women by English men?" (quoted 104)

Case of a Mary Pigot, who ran the Church of Scotland's Orphanage and Zenana Mission in Calcutta, who filed a defamation against Reverent William Hastie. Accused of improper relations with a native Christian, Baboo Kali Charan Bannerjee. Did not entirely vindicate Pigot. "Norris found Pigot's relations with Bennerjee not of a 'proper character'." (quoted 105)

Annette Akroyd -- she came to India as a reformer, a Unitairan philanthropist, on invitation of the Brahmo Samaj. She hahd hosted mixed gatherings of natives and Anglo-Indians at her home. But politically she came out against her husband and against the native cause. She wrote a letter protesting the Ilbert Bill to the Englishman, on 6 March 1883. She condemned the bill as a "proposal to subject civilized women to the jurisdiction of men who have done little or nothing to redeem the women of their race, whose social ideas are still on the outer verge of civilization." (quoted 110)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A night's reading

I read Ruth Franklin's piece in the New Yorker about Somerset Maugham (nominally a review of a new biography by Selina Hastings), and it got me interested in Maugham, whose books have been sitting on my shelves for years. Obviously, we have an interest in some of Maugham's travel-related writing (i.e., stories like the one that became the inspiration for Michelle de Kretser's "The Hamilton Case"). But it is interesting that Of Human Bondage came out in 1915, the same year as Woolf's The Voyage Out and Ford Maddox Ford's The Good Soldier.

I spent a little while later at night reading Maugham's The Gentleman in the Parlour, a book of travel writing Maugham published in 1930. It has a fascinating ambivalent apologia for British colonialism, where Maugham effectively tries to make a statement about something while also stating that he's not going to talk about it.

I also read Isaac Chotiner's review of Robert McCrum's new book, "Globish," which makes some of the same points as David Crystal's book about Global English, which I used in my "Global English" class in Fall 2009. The idea of a stripped down, pidgin English taking over rather than plain English -- but Chotiner doesn't find it convincing. (Come to think of it, the examples in Crystal's book of formalizing pidgins were also were few and far between.)

I also read a little of Ismat Chughtai's "The Crooked Line." Off to a great start -- punchy imagery and a generally insouciant tone.

And Kipling. Looked at the "Gunga Din" poem again -- you can see why it became so huge. I wonder whether people have recorded musical versions of these "Barrack-Room Ballads." A couple of the songs in my Selected Kipling volume do have the "N-word" gratuitously employed, which reminds you starkly of where Kipline was coming from.

I also read an interesting letter by Kipling to his cousing Margaret (whom he addresses as "Wop"), where he starts out exactly right on the heterogeneity of India and Indians, but ends in an ideological rant about the filth of Indian society. It seems like Kipling, at his best, would let go of ideology, and tell stories that had the stamp of the real. At other times, however, he would pull back from that, and ruin a perfectly good story with a few lines of racial predestination.

Kipling is a very slippery beast to hold. The racial consciousness is there early on (as early as his first fall in Lahore -- 1882 -- when he had to face down the Club's outrage about the Ilbert Bill). But he wrote many good things both before and including Kim (1902), where he occasionally forgets about the need to reassert his whiteness.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More Stuff Found & to Look For

Via Virinder Kalra, Raminder Kaur and John Hutnyk, I came across a citation to James Clifford's "Diasporas" (Cultural Anthropology 9:3, 1994). It's on JSTOR; I got the PDF.

Lauren Berlant's "The Female Complaint" is available as an E-text at U-Penn's "Ebrary," which means it can be read electronically if you have a Penn login.

In the Library: May 25, 2010

This is a "notes" blog -- sort of a research/scholarship diary. It's currently a public blog, but I may take it private if it seems appropriate. The goal is to help me keep track of the work I'm doing this summer and fall -- as I attempt to make head-way on two book projects, which I'll call the "Kipling Project" and "South Asian Modernism" (or SAM) respectively. I also want to finish several articles this year: on Indo-African writing, Texture-Words, the theory of transnational modernist movements, and perhaps one on SA popular music.

Searching for material related to diaspora today.

Books include Makarand Paranjape, "In Diaspora." Read the introduction, which is helpful -- it references both William Safran and Vijay Mishra (1996).

Randomly found a book called "The Irish Raj" in the stacks. Makes reference to some figures with which I was familiar -- Annie Besant, Sister Nivedita, as well as some new names, "Maharajah Thomas" being one particularly interesting one.

Also picked up "Transnational Migrations: The Indian Diaspora," edited by William Saffran, Ajaya Kumar Sahoo, and Brij Lal.

Photocopied a few articles related to diaspora from the journal Diaspora:

Khachig Tololyan, "Rethinking Diaspora: Stateless Power in the Transnational Moment." This one is widely cited, and seems important to consider.

Amit S. Rai, "India On-Line: Electronic Bulletin Boards and the Construction of a Diasporic Hindu Identity." This could be relevant to the article I was working on that followed the Sonal Shah controversy.

Gayatri Gopinath, "Bombay, U.K., Yuba City": Bhangra Music and the Engendering of Diaspora

Khachig Tololyan, "The Nation-State and Its Others: In Lieu of a Preface". This is from the first issue of the journal Diaspora.

Lisa Lowe, "Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity: Marking Asian American Differences"

William Safran, "Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return" Again, Safran is a major scholar in the field, and this seems like an important early essay.

Also found online: a copy of a key Stuart Hall essay on Diaspora, "Cultural Identity on Diaspora."

Books I'd like to get --

Rey Chow, "Writing Diaspora" (1993). This is currently checked out.

"Theorizing Diaspora: A Reader." On reserve in Van Pelt.

Virinder Kalra, Diaspora and Hybridity.

R. Radhakrishnan's book.