French India


As the deadline for the call for papers for the third ETIC International Conference: People, Places, Plans on the 10th July 2015 nears, a number of items regarding the encounters and presence of the French in South East Asia provide examples of the projects’ interests, outputs and collaborations.

The newly launched website ‘French Books on India: From Dupleix to Decolonization’ coordinated by Dr Ian Magedera provides an open access online bibliography which aims to include all the fiction and non-fiction books on India published in French from 1754 to the present day. Arranged in chronological order, based on publication date and annotated in both English and French the resource is a tool for scholars around the world.

This site offers readers the opportunity to read full text copies of selected titles from 1756 to 1939, and to read in one place critical summaries of the content of the most important books by international scholars in the field. The goal of the site is to make readers collaborators, and so welcomes suggestions and contributions to the project.

Scholars with an interest in this field will also be interested in an upcoming publication, ‘French Indians in Indochina’ to be launched later this autumn, authored by Natasha Pairaudeau. This exploration of Indian presence in French Indochina intends on offering a new perspective on the rise of inter-Asian migration from the late nineteenth century. The book considers the shaping of the French colonial social order as the East Indian territories diminished in commercial effect.

types indochinois1907

To return to contemporary East India, Chandernagore College will be holding a UGC-Sponsored International Conference, ‘De/siring India: Representations through British and French Eyes (1584 – 1857) in mid January 2016, tentatively, 18 January – 19 January. Please see below for the call for papers. The deadline is the 31st July 2015.

Since Columbus’s failure and Vasco da Gama’s successful trip to India the Europeans have time and again undertaken travels to discover India, to trade, to proselytize, to make both material and spiritual gains. In the process their desire for discovering the ‘other’ and analyzing the ‘self’ through this discovery led to the siring/begetting of many ‘India’s. This conference will focus on two nations, the British and the French, not only because they were rival colonial powers but also because the motives, means and ends achieved by them in their discovery and representation of India were heterogeneous and multiform. From Ralph Fitch’s arrival in India in 1584 to the Sepoy Mutiny, a landmark event altering colonial relations for ever, the proposed period of examination offers innumerable opportunities of looking at the ‘marvelous possessions’ of the British and the French in India; these cultural pilgrims and colonial aggressors were in their turns possessed by the magic of alterity, the enchantment of desiring and begetting novel representations of India through their travel writings, letters, diaries, journals, reports and illustrations as well as paintings. Whether it is Fitch at Akbar’s court or Tavernier at Shah Jahan’s, the moments of encounters always produced different resonances, antiphonic music, paradigms of alterity.

The conference will attempt to examine and analyse the different perceptions and varying representations of early English and French travellers to India. Papers are invited for this conference; topics may include but need not be confined to the following:

• Travelogue and narrative theory

• Journey and the self

• Culture and alterity

• Material culture and its fluidity

• Visualizing difference

• Anthropology and travel

• Hybridity and identity

• Women travellers and representation

• Nation and diplomacy

• Religion and mysticism

• Desire and Utopia

Please send abstracts of 300 to 350 words to within 31 July 2015.


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