Janaki Nair: The Classroom as Sensorium: Tactility, Attention, and Perception in the Mysore School, 1860–1930

26.07.2022, Vortrag, online

26 July 2022 (5.30pm)

Janaki Nair (New Delhi)
The Classroom as Sensorium: Tactility, Attention, and Perception in the Mysore School, 1860–1930

How was the hand to be guided, the eye to be trained, the senses sharpened in preparing the child for an adult world?  In princely Mysore in southern India, the missionaries, who took the initial steps in opening up education to wider circles than those entitled to forms of knowledge, and the Government efforts that followed were faced with new and complex challenges in a society wracked by the proscriptions of caste and gender. On the one hand, the classroom presented opportunities for ordering space and time, and for remaking bodies and habits in the process of building new skills.
But the classroom and the boarding school were perforce also sites of unlearning, of breaking down habits and prejudices relating to touch/sight, as well as older skills and styles of learning, in order to enable the modern educated subject to emerge. A small but suggestive body of visual and other records allows for speculation  about the experience of schooling in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Mysore.


Janaki Nair taught Modern History at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and since retirement has also taught at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. Most of her research, teaching, and writing have been on labour, urban, and legal history, feminist history, and visual culture. Her books include Mysore Modern: Rethinking the Region under Princely Rule (2011); The Promise of the Metropolis: Bangalore’s Twentieth Century (2005); and Women and Law in Colonial India: A Social History (1996).

This lecture will take place as a hybrid event at the German Historical Institute London and online via Zoom. In order to register for this event, please follow this link to Eventbrite.