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Ungoverned ImaginingsJames Mill's The History of British India and Orientalism$
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Javed Majeed

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198117865

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198117865.001.0001

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Sir William Jones

Sir William Jones

Chapter:
(p.11) Chapter 1 Sir William Jones
Source:
Ungoverned Imaginings
Author(s):

Javed Majeed

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198117865.003.0002

This chapter defines and considers the four dominant themes to Sir William Jones's work: his study of Sanskrit and his formulation of the family of Indo-European languages; his project for a digest of Indian law; its relation to discussions of land revenue systems; and his formulation of a methodology for the study of Indian history. Jones's legal work is examined in terms of the problems which it posed for Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, whilst his hymns to Hindu deities are examined in the context of his legal work and his attempt to define the cultural identity of a rejuvenated Hinduism. Rather than explaining the ambiguities in his position in terms of his supposed liberal imperialism, it seems more fruitful to see these ambiguities as stemming from a confusion about how to arrive at an understanding of cultures which would both respect their uniqueness, and compare and contrast them to other cultures in a neutral idiom.

Keywords:   Sir William Jones, Sanskrit, Indo-European languages, India, law, history, imperialism, James Mill, Hinduism

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