chapter  2
17 Pages

The imperial Indian: India in British history textbooks for schools 1890–1914

ByKathryn Castle

It was an interest in the origins and function of racial stereotypes which first brought my attention to the British history textbook. How, and by what agencies, were ideas about race transmitted to the rising generation in a period of British history when the imperial ethos was at its zenith? The original study was wide ranging, examining not only the images of India, but also of Africa and China, in school and popular reading materials. In the propagation of racial ideas textbooks were only part of a network of learning and leisure activities which mutually reinforced concepts of nationalism, character formation, and racial myths.1 They were, however, to play an important and, I believe, distinctive role. Textbooks gave to the information they imparted to young minds the legitimacy of historical fact and analysis, and required for at least some of the recipients, the retention and display of this knowledge for teachers and examiners.