Cover image for Reversing the gaze : Amar Singh's diary, a colonial subject's narrative of Imperial India
Reversing the gaze : Amar Singh's diary, a colonial subject's narrative of Imperial India
Amar Singh, 1892-1942.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xii, 633 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1130 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
DS485.R19 A85 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Amar Singh, a Rajput nobleman and officer in the Indian Army, kept a diary for 44 years from 1898, when he was twenty, until his death in 1942. In it he writes about the Jodhpur court, the Imperial Cadet Corps, and the British Expeditionary Force in China during the Boxer rebellion. A century before hybridity, he constructs a hybrid self, an Edwardian officer cum gentleman and a martial Rajput cum manor lord. With the diary acting as alter ego and best friend, Amar Singh resists becoming "a coolie for the raj" when he finds the British to be racist masters as well as friends. He writes and reads extensively "to keep himself amused," he says, and to avoid the boredom of princedom and raj philistinism. Here the authors focus on the first eight years of Amar Singh's diary (1898-1905), offering a rare and intimate glimpse into British colonialism from the point of view of a colonial subject. Illustrated with fifty photographs and facsimiles from Amar Singh's readings.

Author Notes

Susanne Hoeber Rudolph and Lloyd I. Rudolph are professors in the department of political science at the University of Chicago
Mohan Singh Kanota, Amar Singh's nephew and heir.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. x
Selections from Amar Singh's Readingsp. xii
Introductionp. 1
Introductionp. 3
1 Provenance: Making a Self at the Jodhpur Courtp. 6
2 Liminality: Making a Self Between Two Culturesp. 16
3 How We Encountered the Diaryp. 22
4 Reconstructing the Textp. 27
5 An Indian Diary in Englishp. 30
6 Reversing the Gaze: The Diarist as Reflexive "Native" Ethnographerp. 39
Part I Getting Startedp. 45
Introductionp. 47
1 About the Diaryp. 49
2 The Education of a Diaristp. 60
3 Sarkarp. 76
4 Hurjeep. 81
5 The Apprenticep. 83
6 Manners and Moresp. 87
7 A Mania for Polop. 89
8 Blood and Other Sportsp. 96
9 My Familyp. 101
Part II The Jodhpur Lancers in China: Imperial Soldiers or Coolies of the Raj?p. 107
Introductionp. 109
1 Getting There: With the Allied Expeditionary Force to Chinap. 114
2 Tensions in the China Garrisonp. 125
3 Under Fire at Lijapoop. 142
4 Thinking it Over: "Tried Warrior" or "Coolie of the Raj"?p. 153
Part III Transgression and Reconciliation: Becoming a Householderp. 165
Introductionp. 167
1 An Uncommon Weddingp. 169
2 Becoming a Householderp. 181
Part IV Soldier for the Raj?: Accommodation and Resistance at the Imperial Cadet Corpsp. 195
Introductionp. 197
1 "An Example for Others": First Term in the Imperial Cadet Corpsp. 209
2 "The Results of Sodomy": Second Term in the Imperial Cadet Corpsp. 233
3 "Too Proud and Haughty"?: Third Term in the Imperial Cadet Corpsp. 255
4 "To Command Europeans"?: Fifth Term in the Imperial Cadet Corpsp. 268
5 "The Big Swells were Gone": Sixth Term in the Imperial Cadet Corpsp. 280
6 "Good-bye, My Dear Corps": Seventh Term in the Imperial Cadet Corpsp. 291
Part V Private Lives in Patriarchal Space: Amar Singh at Home in Princely Indiap. 305
Introductionp. 307
1 Diplomacy of Everyday Life: "This Damned Etiquette"p. 316
2 Lectures to the Maharaja of Kishengarh: "How to Promote Love" and "The Abuses of Youth"p. 334
3 Women at Home: "What Real Difficulties There Are in a Rajput Family Life"p. 342
4 Joint-Family Responsibilities: "My One Aim Is to Secure Peace at Home"p. 352
5 Men in the World: Estate Management, Horses, and Booksp. 377
6 Harmony and Dissidence in the Joint Family: "Show Sympathy and You Will Earn Confidence"p. 388
Part VI Princely Courts in Imperial Spacep. 411
Introductionp. 413
1 Court Society at Jodhpur: The Struggle for the Maharaja's Personp. 419
2 Court Society at Kishengarh and Idar: Replicating Marks of Sovereigntyp. 439
3 H. H. Kishengarh Marries at Udaipur: The Ceremonial Enactment of Inferiorityp. 452
4 Imperial Ritual at Alwar: Lord Curzon Invests Jai Singh with Full Powersp. 468
5 Paramountcy and Corruption: Talks with Political Officersp. 474
Notesp. 487
Glossary I Names of Persons and Placesp. 553
Glossary II Unfamiliar Termsp. 577
Appendix Genealogical Charts and Lineagesp. 593
Author Indexp. 603
Subject Indexp. 609