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February Digital Seminar

20 February 2024


Seminar:  Education  &  Intimacy  in  the  Making  of  Indian  Rulers  -

Princely  Pupils  &  their  British  Tutors  in  Late-Nineteenth Century  Colonial  India

Teresa Seguara-Garcia (University Pompeu Fabra)




The end of the nineteenth century was a period of immense change in the lives of Indian rulers. In  royal courts across the subcontinent, succession crises, minority rule, and British encroachment  turned the education of young princes into a highly contested enterprise. Indian teachers and  British tutors, local courtiers and imperial administrators, ruling families and princely pupils — all  grappled with questions of what constituted a “good” ruler and how education contributed to it.  Emotion and intimacy played a central role in these debates and practices around princely  education.  


The paper examines the importance of intimacy in princely education through the schooling of a 12-year-old prince, Maharaja Sayaji Rao III of Baroda. Originally from an obscure branch of  the royal family, in 1875 the Dowager Maharani of Baroda adopted him as the state’s next ruler.  To buttress his authority, Indian and British actors in Baroda fashioned a new form of princely  education under the control of Frederick Elliot, an Oxford-educated Scottish tutor. The paper analyses the intimate dimension of this extraordinary educational experiment, from the  transmission of the “proper” emotions of a British gentleman from tutor to pupil, to the emotional  closeness and eventual friendship that emerged between the two, in a relationship that ultimately  threatened the hierarchies of colonial rule. The paper deepens our knowledge of the limits of  British control in Indian courts, balancing its political power with its precariousness in the face of  the powerful, unexpected consequences of intimacy and emotion.



Laura Díaz-Esteve


Seminar Timetable

17:00 – 17:10: Introduction (Chair)

17:10 – 17:55: Presentations

17:55 – 18:15: Q&A


Presenter bio

Teresa Segura-Garcia is a historian of Modern South Asia based at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, where she is a postdoctoral researcher (with a Juan de la Cierva-Incorporación fellowship, awarded by the Government of Spain). She has a PhD in History from the University of Cambridge, with a dissertation on the global links of the Indian princely state of Baroda in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


After her PhD, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi (with an ICAS:MP fellowship by the M. S. Merian – R. Tagore International Centre of Advanced Studies). She has held a visiting fellowship at the Department of History at Brown University. Her recent publications include the edited volume Unexpected Voices in Imperial Parliaments (co-edited with Josep M. Fradera and José María Portillo, Bloomsbury, 2021), and a chapter on the Indian princely states in the Routledge Handbook of the History of Colonialism in South Asia (edited by Harald Fischer-Tiné and Maria Framke, 2021).

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