Public Symposium on Colonial Connections: Ireland, India and Education

Posted on: 08 October 2008

Education bound Ireland and India together in complex ways, none more so than in the field of education, as Irish institutions of higher education trained hundreds of civil servants, teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers and missionaries who pursued careers in colonial India. A public symposium,  ‘Colonial Connections: Ireland, India and Education’ organised by Trinity College Dublin under the auspices of the Trinity Long Room Hub  is  taking place on Saturday, October 11th next in the Chester Beatty Library. It  will bring together renowned scholars of Irish and Indian history to explore the links between Ireland, India and colonialism in two key areas of colonial education: language and linguistics; medicine and science.

Trinity, for example, offered a comprehensive programme of language study in all of the major Indian languages by the mid 19th century. This programme was responsible for producing individuals such as the brilliant Indian linguist George Grierson, head of the widest-ranging language survey ever conducted, the Linguistic Survey of India. 

In the case of science, TCD as well as UCC and NUIG trained large numbers of doctors and engineers who played important roles in the Indian colonial services, including in the geological survey of India and in the medical services. During the 1860s and ’70s, Ireland in fact produced proportionately more doctors for these services than either England or Scotland.

What this symposium aims to do is to think about issues of coloniality in a comparative perspective and to begin to look at some of the ways in which Ireland and India shaped each other, particularly in the realms of language and science. How did Ireland’s coloniality shape its own development of such an imperial curriculum? What drove young Irish men to train to become servants of the empire?   How did they, in turn, shape the development of colonialism in a very different context? What tensions did this produce? And what effects did all of this have on India? These are just a few of the questions which may be explored at the symposium.

Chester Beatty Library
Saturday, October 11,  2008
Time: 10am -5pm (Adm Free)

Symposium Programme

Morning Session

Registration and tea/coffee  10:00-10:15

Language Panel    10:15-12:45


Chair:  Professor Tadhg Foley, NUI Galway

Professor Shahid Amin (Delhi University)-prominent subalternist who is currently working on a project on George Grierson (a Trinity graduate) and the linguistic survey of India

Professor Saurabh Dube (Colegio de Mexico)-a renowned scholar who works on missionaries, tribals, and the ‘language’ of missionary education in India

Professor Luke Gibbons (University of Notre Dame)-distinguished literary/film scholar who works on various aspects of colonial Irish culture

Associate Professor Joseph Lennon (Manhattan College)-a scholar who has made an important contribution to the study of ‘Irish’ Orientalism, or Irish attitudes towards the ‘East’ in which India features prominently. 

Discussants:  Dr. Daniel Roberts (Queens) and another TBA.

Afternoon Session

Science Panel    2:15-4:30


Chair:  Professor David Dickson

Professor Dhruv Raina (Jawaharlal Nehru University)-one of the foremost scholars of the history of science in India

Dr. Jim Mills-has published widely on the history of colonial medicine in India. 

Professor Greta Jones (Ulster University)-a renowned scholar of the history of medicine in Ireland and is currently working on a project on medical migration to and from Ireland from 1860-1960

Professor Richard Jarrell (York University, Canada)-a prominent scholar of science and colonialism, both in Ireland and in other settler colonial contexts such as Canada and Australia.

Discussants:  Dr. Deana Heath and Dr. Juliana Adelmann