Natural history and the Raj: popular wildlife literature for readers in Britain and the British Empire in India (1858–1947)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

From the mid nineteenth into the mid twentieth centuries a significant number of British people spent their careers in India administering what was regarded as the most important territory of the British Empire. During this period, an extensive body of literature on Indian wildlife was published both in Britain and in India itself. This paper surveys the authors and the publishers of this literature and suggests that the material was shaped by the differing interests of readers in the two countries. The emergence of a community of enthusiastic naturalists among the British expatriates is contrasted with the promotion of India as an exotic location for readers in Britain itself. The role of hunting narratives in providing information for the study of natural history is explored, along with growing concerns about the need for conservation. The complexity of the relationships between expatriate British naturalists and the local populations is used to throw light on how the situation changed in the decades leading to independence. In conclusion, the publications of the Bombay Natural History Society are used to illustrate these developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-203
Number of pages15
JournalArchives of Natural History
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • History
  • Anthropology

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