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More important to civilize than subdue? Lunatic asylums, psychiatric practice and fantasies of the civilizing mission in British India, 1858-1900

Mills, James (2004) More important to civilize than subdue? Lunatic asylums, psychiatric practice and fantasies of the civilizing mission in British India, 1858-1900. In: Colonialism as civilizing mission : cultural ideology in British India. Anthem Press, London, UK. ISBN 1843310910

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Abstract

'What is intellectually stimulating is the variety that this volume offers - the ways in which individual essays bring into light a new body of archival sources as well as the manner in which eash essay offers a specific geographical-cultural episode of a larger pan-Indian narrative around the colonial "civilizing mission."' Srirupa Prasad, 'Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History' Inherent in colonialism was the idea of self-legitimation, the most powerful tool of which was the colonizer's claim to bring the fruits of progress and modernity to the subject people. In colonial logic, people who were different because they were inferior had to be made similar - and hence equal - by civilizing them. However, once this equality had been attained, the very basis for colonial rule would vanish. 'Colonialism as Civilizing Mission' explores British colonial ideology at work in South Asia. Ranging from studies on sport and national education, to pulp fiction to infanticide, to psychiatric therapy and religion, these essays on the various forms, expressions and consequences of the British 'civilizing mission' in South Asia shed light on a topic that even today continues to be an important factor in South Asian politics.