South Asian Heritage Month 2021: An Asian Enlightenment across Britain’s Indian Ocean, 1860-1920

29 July 2021

As part of UCL History's celebration of South Asian Heritage Month 2021, we have published the 5-part podcast 'An Asian Enlightenment across Britain’s Indian Ocean, 1860-1920', delivered by Dr Mark Frost, alongside a selection of related images!

An Asian Enlightenment across Britain’s Indian Ocean, 1860-1920

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, intellectual and cultural life in South Asia was transformed by an imperial postal revolution. Texts, and the news, views and opinions contained within them, began to move across the ocean at an unprecedented speed and in an equally intensified volume. This lecture podcast, originally given as a keynote address to the 2021 Distant Communications conference (https://twitter.com/DistantCommuni1), explores the intellectual and cultural ramifications of this literary transformation on Asian identities, communities and intelligentsia. It argues that the utopianism of the era, as literati across South and Southeast Asia discovered their fellow literati across land and sea, represented a period of Asian enlightenment - one that, as Sebastian Conrad has argued, enriches and extends our global understanding of the Enlightenment as a movement that goes beyond its European history. But this was equally a distinct period of enlightenment, characterised by the battle with colonial authorities and Western systems of thought and belief, and marked by the critical unpacking of European claims to superiority.

Introduction and Part I: The Rise of Postal Modernity

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/E1HCii2a

Part II: Discoveries across Distance

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/FfA96c4J

Part III: Looking at Great Mirrors: the Rise of Critical Publics

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/8GbB26Df

IV: Babel or Cosmopolis? The Age of Translation 

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/HdF1dhc1