"An Indian’s Europe: Integration and Exclusion in The Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan"


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"An Indian’s Europe: Integration and Exclusion in The Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan"
European Romantic Review
Steiner Enit
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This article examines the parameters that the Indian-Persian scholar Abu Taleb Khan deployed to determine what Europe was and was not in the early nineteenth century. The geo-religio-political knowledge underpinning Abu Taleb’s notion of the territories that he calls the “Powers of Europe” produces a “counterflow” historiography which describes what Europe looked like from the outside. Synecdochally siphoned by the wars resulting from the French Revolution, the geography and history of the “Powers of Europe” intimately connect the fortunes of imperial Britain with that of the European continent. This approach goes against an influential historiographical branch which analyses Britain and Europe separately, not least to make a case for British exceptionalism. By contrast, Travels understands British history as constituted by a shared legacy of what he calls the “Christian” system and the conflicts between warring European kingdoms. While such interrelatedness casts Europe’s lengthening ties and imperialist grip across the globe, Abu Taleb’s Europe seems to have a gaping hole where European territories of the Ottoman Empire used to be, a view that contrasts with the Europe portrayed in many British geography books. Military and religious criteria hold together Abu Taleb’s conception of Europe against what he regards to be an alliance-shifting and disarrayed Ottoman Empire. The article ends with remarks on one Victorian afterlife of Abu Taleb’s travelogue that erased the European analysis that was foregrounded by its Romantic readers, by wrongly promoting a Brito-centric view of Abu Taleb’s “counterflow” historiography.
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05/09/2023 15:04
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06/09/2023 6:59
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