Wednesday, September 19, 2012

National Archives of India (Review)

Derek L. Elliott has reviewed the National Archives of India for the Dissertation Reviews website. I think he found the experience slightly more comfortable than I did, but I also think that gender matters at the NAI, regardless of what others would tell you. Then again, I made a lot of research progress there despite the obstacles, plus it really made me appreciate the archives in Bikaner and Bhopal. Elliott's review can be found at

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hal Gould's Corner

From the website:

"Since 1991, I have been a Visiting Professor of South Asian Studies in the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Prior to this, from 1968 to 1991, I was Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana; and for a time Director of Asian Studies at this institution. My career in South Asian Studies began as a Fulbright Student to Lucknow University in 1954-55 where, under the tutelage of Professor D N. Majumdar, I conducted anthropological field work in village communities in Faizabad district, not far from the holy city of Ayodhya. Following completion of my doctorate, at Washington University of St. Louis, in 1959, my research and my life have taken me to every corner of India. After a while, the focus of my scholarship shifted to the study of grass-roots political behavior plus commentary and analysis (see my list of publications) on macro-political trends in the South Asian region; in these capacities over the years I have crossed paths with a wide spectrum of Indian politicians and scholars at every level of South Asian society, including four Indian prime ministers. My wife, Ketayun, is a native-born Indian of Parsi-Zoroastrian descent, a research scholar in her own right, who has published widely in the Social Work field and has over the years held numerous positions in academia."

Visit Hal Gould's Corner: South Asia Past, Present and the World

Friday, June 8, 2012

National Archives of India

I've been meaning to come back and update my previous post on the National Archives of India. What I've decided to is pull some links out the discussion originally conducted on the H-Asia listserv since the H-Net search function can be tricky.

The previous post contained a link to Part Two of a four-part series by Dinyar Patel about the state of Indian archives and libraries. I recommend going back to Part One, "In India, History Literally Rots Away." Part Three is "India's Archives: How Did Things Get This Bad?" Part Four is "Parsis, Once India's Curators, Now Shrug as History Rots." Patel has also contributed an opinion piece along the same lines to The Hindu, called "Our Past Is Being Moth-Eaten."

Mushirul Hasan, Directory General of the NAI, features in Patel's assessment of the archive. You can find an interview with Mr. Hasan, "National Archives can't be run as a typical government office," in the The Times of India.

As you might guess, while Patel's descriptions of the current state of Indian archives were accurate, there was some dissension and discussion about his articles. Quite rightly, some scholars objected to Patel's approach: it's very easy to criticize, very difficult to remedy. Many recognize the problem, few provide workable solutions to to it. There's also a question of (Orientalist) exteriority--who has the right to speak for the Indian archive? Foreign scholars? Indian scholars? What is to be gained by this intense focus on everything that's wrong with or lamentable about India's archives?

Mr. David Lunn pointed out that in addition to the negative attention, perhaps we should recognize some of the successful digitisation projects coming out of India. He mentioned the Digital Library of India, which I use quite frequently to look at older material (right now, books from 1904-1910). I've mentioned the Archives of India Labour here; I've also noticed that the website for the National Film Archive of India seems to be updated regularly.

The application deadline has passed, but Dr. Rashmi Sawhney pointed out that the India Foundation for the Arts was already directing resources toward fixing some of the highlighted problems by funding Archival Fellowships. What I particularly liked about the call for applications was that the materials could be submitted in any Indian language (including English). I hope this will direct attention to the preservation/accessibility of resources in Indian languages.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

National Archives of India

Today's "India Ink" provides a note of optimism for users of the National Archives of India in New Delhi. The most important line of the entire article? The following quote from the new director, Mr. Mushiral Hasan:

“I wanted to provide a corrective to institutional malaise.”

I'm envious of those scholars walking into NAI today because if this article is even 50% correct, it means they will have a completely different experience than I had working there. Even the "quicker turnaround for photocopying and scanning" signals something just short of a sea change.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Archives de la Province de France de la Compagnie de Jésus

I'm working again this week with some of the material I gathered at the Archives de la Province de France de la Compagnie de Jésus in Vanves, France. The revisions I'm trying to complete rely fairly heavily on the Fonds Brotier. Right now I'm translating a bunch of astronomical observations recorded near Calcutta by Father Claude Boudier between 1731 and 1735 CE. This volume also contains copies of observations made by others that Father Boudier must have kept near for purposes of comparison and study. I'll add a brief index here, if you'll agree to forgive me the typographical errors and misplaced accents.

Volume 78 GBro 078

  1. Observations des distances du soleil au Zenith faites à Chandernagor par le Père Boudier, 1731-1732 ; f. 1rv
  2. Les Observations Suivantes ont ete faites avec un Gnomon de 36062 partiers ou 15 pieds 7 pouces 9 signes 13 partiers (Mai 1731-Sept 1731) ; ff. 1v-4r
  3. Observations faites à Pequin par le R. P. Gaubil Jesuites 1723 ; f. 4v-5r
  4. Observations faites à Chandernagor 1731-1732 ; ff. 5v-7r
  5. [1731-32] Temps du passage du l’image du soleil par le méridien observe à Chandernagor; ff. 7r-8r
  6. Observations des Taches du Soleil Juillet 1731 ; ff. 8v
  7. Observations de l’eclipse de lune du 8 Juin 1732, faite à Chandernagor ; f. 9r
  8. Observations de l’eclipse de lune du 2 Décembre 1732 faite a Chandernagor ; f. 9r-10r
  9. Observations de 1er satellite de Jupiter faites a Chandernagor en 1732 ; f 10r-10v
  10. Observations des distances du soleil au zenith faites a Chandernagor in 1732 ; f10v-11v
  11. Des observations du 16, 17, 18 et 23 Fevrier on a conclu l’entree du Soleil dans le Signe der poissona ; f. 12r
  12. Observations du passage de Sirius par le Meridien en Mars 1732 ; f. 12r-13r
  13. De la grandeur de l’annee solaire ; 13v-14v
  14. De la grandeur de l’annee solaire dans se palais du Marqui de Maluasi à la fin 1655 ; 14v
  15. Equinox de Riccoli rapportez dans son astronomie reformee Comparees avec ceux l’Hipparque ; 15r
  16. Equinox de M. Cassini comparees avec ceux l’Hipparque ; 15v
  17. Equinox observez à Chandernagore en fin 1732 et comparez avec ceux l'Hipparque ; 16v
  18. Du lieu de l'apogee du Soleil ; 17r-19v
  19. De l'excentricité du Soleil ; 19v-20r
  20. Du diametre apparent du soleil ; 20v
  21. [Still working on this section]
  22. Observations de l’eclipse de soleil du 8-1-1731 ; 29r-30r
  23. Observation d’une Eclipse du la Lune faite a Chandernagor le soire de 13 Décembre avec une lunette douze pieds ; ff. 30r-30v.
  24. Les observations faites en 1733, 1734, et 1735 ne laissent aucun lieu de douter qu’il ne faille exclure la pénombre en mesurant l’image du soleil pour avoir son diamètre apparent. Voici le résultat de ces observations. ff 24v-26v ; 31r-32r.
  25. Voici quelques observations qu'on a faites pendant le voyage d'Amber pour la longitude des endroit ces dessous marquez en 1734 ; 31r
  26. Observations d'eclipses lunaires faites par les [crames?] a l'observatoire du Raja Jassing Savai a la ville de Savae Jaepour ; 31v
  27. Observations des distance du soleil au zenith de l'observatoire de Dely ; 32r
  28. Memes obsevations, autre exemplaire ; 26 p. ff. 35-45
  29. Memes observations, redaction differnent ; 12 p. ff. 46-51
  30. Eclipse de lune observee a Chandernagor la nuit du 28 au 29 mai 1733 par les PP. jesuites ; 4 p. ff 53-54
  31. Equinoxes observes a Chandernagor en 1732 et compares a ceux d’Hipparque, 2 p. f. 54

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Teen Murti

So far, none of my research has required work at Teen Murti (though of course I've been to the museum). I have only heard good things about working there, so I'm kind of sad that I never found an excuse. Dharitri Bhattacharjee and Amber Abbas, Department of History, The University of Texas at Austin, gave it a short write up in a recent issue of Sagar, A South Asia Research Journal.