Shifting Cultures of Knowledge: Translation, Language Learning and Scholarly Practices

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk


This paper explores the significance of the introduction of translation for pedagogical purposes in realigning existing linguistic boundaries and forms of knowledge in early nineteenth-century India. I will focus on two distinct contexts of 'learning' where translation played a significant part: the learning of 'Oriental' languages by British civil servants and missionaries in the Madras Presidency aspiring to a career in colonial administration or mission field and the training of Indian catechists aspiring to church ordination in the Bombay Presidency. Translation as pedagogy introduces in the scholarly worlds of Madras and Bombay Presidencies important new conceptions of what 'translation' is and of how languages function and relate to each other. I will explore how this brings in a new understanding in the relation between languages and modernity. I suggest that the pursuit of commensurability through academic translation exercises both produces different ways of knowing as well as introduces new measures of competencies in the real world.
Period6 Jul 20177 Jul 2017
Held atUniversity of Vienna, Austria


  • Translation
  • Colonial India
  • Pedagogical Practices
  • British Civil Service in India
  • Madras Presidency