Other Landscapes

Colonialism and the Predicament of Authority in Nineteenth-Century South India

by Deborah Sutton

  • Published:
  • Pages: 272 pp.
  • 20 maps & illustrations
  • Series number: 111
Available from NIAS Press worldwide

This book recounts the failed British attempt to settle, transform and govern the cooler uplands of South India. It is a fascinating story bringing together strands from agrarian, environmental, administrative and cultural history.

Due to the inhospitable climate and vastness of the native population, European settlement of India was never seriously considered apart from in selected upland areas with cooler climates and sparse native populations.

One such area was the Nilgiri Hills of South India which, from the early 19th century, saw concerted efforts at European colonization and displacement of the local population as well as an attempt to visualize and recreate an English landscape in the area.

Other Landscapes investigates the interfaces between indigenes, European settlers and the colonial state on the Nilgiri Hills, focusing on land disputes, regulation of land sales, regimes of forest management and ethnographic projects of cultural ‘preservation’. It examines the landscape as it was configured in the Imperial imagination, explores the corruption and manipulation of local administration and argues that rarely, if ever, did official intent correspond to the systems of reform, regulation and invigilation imposed over the local agrarian landscape.

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Deborah Sutton is currently a lecturer at Lancaster University, in the department of history.  She lectures on various subjects pertaining to India.

Deborah Sutton is currently a lecturer at Lancaster University, in the department of history.  She lectures on various subjects pertaining to India.

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by Ezra Rashkow, Montclair State University
From journal:
Environment and History, Vol. 19, No. 1, February 2013

"Impressively detailed in its use of archive materials, [Other Landscapes] draws on primary sources from the colonial bureaucracy scattered across several archives in India and the UK.

"Impressively detailed in its use of archive materials, [Other Landscapes] draws on primary sources from the colonial bureaucracy scattered across several archives in India and the UK.

… Sutton’s work is firmly grounded in critical archival reading and remains rigorously empirical throughout. Sutton’s study takes a largely structural approach to a history of domination in the region…

… perhaps the greatest originality of Sutton’s work is in how she avoids merely ‘mapping’ the theories of other disciplines, and even other historians, onto her case study."

by Robert Simpkins, San Jose State University
From journal:
H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences

"… an important contribution to the literature on the Nilgiri Hills and contains significant summaries of material not replicated elsewhere.

… an important document for scholars of the region, or those seeking comparative studies of European colonization and its impact on cultural and physical landscapes."

"… an important contribution to the literature on the Nilgiri Hills and contains significant summaries of material not replicated elsewhere.

… an important document for scholars of the region, or those seeking comparative studies of European colonization and its impact on cultural and physical landscapes."

by
From journal:
The Hindu. Monday, April 4, 2011

"This book outlines a new and refreshing template for studies in environmental history and colonialism in South Asia.  By foregrounding the problem of ‘predicament,’ this book compellingly discusses environmental change and colonial power as being mutually shaped by contingency, surprise, dissonance, elisions and inevitably frustration."

"This book outlines a new and refreshing template for studies in environmental history and colonialism in South Asia.  By foregrounding the problem of ‘predicament,’ this book compellingly discusses environmental change and colonial power as being mutually shaped by contingency, surprise, dissonance, elisions and inevitably frustration."

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