François Bernier's Travelogue and the Language of Imperial Knowledge
Advisors: Manan Ahmed (Columbia), Gagan D. S. Sood (LSE)
French physician François Bernier’s seventeenth century travelogue has been widely studied as an eyewitness account of Mughal India. This dissertation connects Bernier’s French text to the construction of later British imperial rhetoric about South Asia. A central feature of this study is a problematic nineteenth century English translation of Bernier’s text. This English translation continues to be used to this day in scholarship and as a basis for new editions of the travelogue. In general, this essay highlights trends in the construction of European knowledge over time and the ways in which Bernier’s text indicates the practice of employing "scientific" knowledge for imperial ends in world history.