Native charity in colonial India: Taking care of poor Europeans

Native charity in colonial India: Taking care of poor Europeans

24 June 2022 | Séminaire de Preeti Chopra
  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

In colonial India, the British were sojourners rather than settlers. They ruled over millions that were culturally, racially, and religiously distinctfrom Europeans. From the late eighteenth-century, after the establishment of colonial rule from 1757, the British began to segregate themselves, culturally, socially, and spatially, from their entanglements with native populations in the subcontinent. The colonial government consistently sought to keep the cost of governance to a minimum by for example, limiting its responsibility for the care of the millions they ruled over. Native charity and philanthropy were expected and encouraged to pay, wholly or in part, for the religious, medical, charitable, and educational infrastructure for natives. In contrast to this infrastructure for the native inhabitants of the subcontinent, how was a sojourner population expected to establish an infrastructure for Europeans? Who would take care of the European poor? This paper focuses on native charitable contributions for the benefit of Europeans in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in western India. It reveals that native charitable gifting practices contributed to the creation of a European religious and charitable infrastructure for what I call, in contrast to settler colonialism, sojourner colonialism.


Preeti Chopra, Department of Art History University of Wisconsin-Madison and Visiting Professor, Centre for History, Sciences Po

Discussant: Florence Bernault, Centre for History, Sciences Po.

The presentation will be followed by a discussion.


24 June, 2022
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