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Grant number like: FT-57475-10

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Mytheli Sreenivas
Ohio State University (Columbus, OH 43210-1132)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2010 – 9/30/2010

Counting Indians: Population and the Body Politic, 1800-1970

"Counting Indians" investigates the history of the idea that India is an overpopulated place. From the nineteenth century, fears of overpopulation haunted Indian political culture, but paradoxically, this concern predated demonstrable increases in population size or rate of growth. This disjuncture prompts my study of how concepts of population have shaped projects of governance in South Asia. I hypothesize that population was not a neutral category--concerned objectively with numerical measurement--but was a politically fraught concept that underpinned claims of power, privilege, and citizenship. In tracing this history, the project examines how debate about population mediated a range of political relationships between state and society, and among citizens. Understanding population, I suggest, can inform humanistic scholarship concerning the nature of the modern state, the construction of identity, and the imagination of community in a post-colonial world.