Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
This dissertation examines the history of hunting in India under British colonialism, but with some background on earlier periods and a brief discussion on Nepal and successor states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. The study relies on Indian and British sources including private papers, memoirs, books, and official records. It examines hunting by different native groups in India, British men and women, and considers the relationship of hunting to political authority, gender identity, and conservation and the environment.;Before the British takeover of India, the country had a hunting tradition that included royal hunting and tribal hunting. The British also had a hunting tradition dating back to the Middle Ages that generally limited hunting rights to the aristocracy and the royals and restricted/prohibited hunting by other groups, which in some classes was classed as poaching. As the British extended control over large areas in the late 18th century, the British connected themselves with princely rulers to gain legitimacy. This shared activity resulted in a blending of British and Indian hunting traditions and gave rise to what I call the Anglo-Indian hunting tradition.;Hunting was connected with masculinity generally, yet a small number of women also participated. The Anglo-Indian hunting tradition also involved employment of shikaris due to their expert knowledge, but the British were critical of shikaris often because they were seen as poachers and hunted without guns, which some British men viewed as "feminine." Nevertheless, the Anglo-Indian hunt crossed social and communal boundaries as the British established strong bonds with their shikaris. The British hunting tradition emphasized paternalism congruent with the benevolence of imperialism. This tradition developed in the 19th century. British men like Jim Corbett hunted to protect Indians from the depredations of wild animals like tigers or leopards.;During the 19th century British sportsmen and especially Indian princes killed large numbers of animals in their hunt. By the late 19th and certainly by the 20th century declining numbers of game animals persuaded British hunters and officials to establish a system of laws, licenses and permits to regulate and limit hunting and suppress poaching. The British sportsman of the 20th century was a gentlemanly, refined hunter whose primary characteristic trait was a sense of restraint and a strong sense of ecological awareness. Hunting retained its imperial legacy well into the post-colonial period as Indian hunters took up the mantle of the British out of a moral desire and continued to protect Indians from wild animal disturbances.
Mani, Fiona, "Guns and shikaris: The rise of the sahib's hunting ethos and the fall of the subaltern poacher in British India, 1750-1947" (2012). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 594.