October Digital Seminar
24 October 2023
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.
17:00 – 17:10: Introduction (Chair)
17:10 – 17:55: Presentations
17:55 – 18:15: Q&A
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).