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Books > History > Francis Buchanan in Southeast Bengal (1798)
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Francis Buchanan in Southeast Bengal (1798)
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Francis Buchanan in Southeast Bengal (1798)
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About the Book

Francis Buchanan was born in Scotland in 1762 and qualified as a medical doctor in 1783. He made several journeys to Asia and went on to become one of British India's foremost surveyors. His travel accounts/surveys have been published and republished in India.

In this volume Prof. Willem van Schendel presents a 200 years old, virtually unknown document 'An Account of a Journey Undertaken by Order of the Board of Trade Through the Provinces of Chittagong and Tiperah in Order to Look Out for the Places Most Proper for the Cultivation of Spices' by Francis Buchanan, M.D. Buchanan undertook this journey in 1798 and only one copy of his report survives in the British Library which has remained unpublished so far.

It is the earliest detailed travel account on the region that we have and is a significant source of new information on eighteenth century Bengal, Arakan, Tripura, Cachar, Manipur, Mizoram and Burma.

His account is full of observations about social life, places of pilgrimage, ruins of centuries old Buddhist temples and stupas, etc. He also reports about quality of soil, geographical peculiarities and the state of agriculture, trade and local products in the regions he visited. The information furnished by him about the Chittagong Hill Tracts is simply invaluable for the re-construction of the history of the area.

The document is additionally important as a record of British expansion in the area. His account can also be seen as an example of how Europeans were beginning to understand the world about them more and more by means of a critical use of sources of information and by experiment. Further, the document being Buchanan's first full travel account is important for a proper understanding of his later surveys.

Finally, Buchanan is 'first and foremost an intellectual forebear of all social scientists trying to make sense of social structure and social changes in South Asia'. So historians, students of economy and social scientists all will find the account invaluable.

About the Author

Willem van Schendel is Professor of Comparative History at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. Besides contributing articles to various journals and edited collections, he has previously written Peasant Mobility; The Odds of Life in Rural Bangladesh and Three Deltas; Accumulation and Poverty in Rural Burma, Bengal and South India.

Introduction

Among the many problems that beset contemporary Bangladesh, underdevelopment and poverty are perhaps the most urgent. One aspect of underdevelopment which is often overlooked is the underdevelopment of knowledge. This is especially clear in the case of historical knowledge. While the other social sciences in Bangladesh have received a certain fillip from the considerable aid funds which have been flowing into the country since the early 1970s, the study of history has remained largely untouched. As a result, policies to over-come underdevelopment are based on the most sketchy understanding of longer-term processes of change in Bangladesh. Assumptions about the past usually take the place of actual insights. This is a result of the underdevelopment of historical research in Bangladesh, but also of a view among development planners that historical research is little more than a luxury.

In order to correct the many misunderstandings about patterns of development and underdevelopment in Bangladesh, it is crucial that various myths be exposed. One is that of Bangladesh as a helpless, inefficient society that has always needed outsiders to cope. This idea, coined by imperialist historians to justify colonial rule, fits the current situation of aid dependency like a glove. To counter this myth, nationalist historians have constructed an image of the precolonial period as a Golden Age. They blame the country's present ills on its subservient position, first in the British Empire, and now in the world economy at large. Very little effort is made to go beyond these attempts at apportioning blame, and to fmd out how processes of development and underdevelopment have actually been interwoven throughout the recent history of Bangladesh. A closer look reveals that underdevelopment has not only been imposed from without, but at times has been pursued by certain groups within Bangladesh society as well. Conversely, various development processes have been initiated in the past but these could not be sustained. The development history of Bangladesh is marked by frequent fluctuations, turn abouts, and decelerations. We need to understand these complex dynamics of social and economic change before we can hope to generate adequate solutions to the grave problems currently facing Bangladesh.

**Contents and Sample Pages**










Francis Buchanan in Southeast Bengal (1798)

Item Code:
NAZ167
Cover:
HARDCOVER
Edition:
1992
ISBN:
9788173040610
Language:
English
Size:
9.00 X 6.00 inch
Pages:
214 (10 B/W Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 0.38 Kg
Price:
$28.00   Shipping Free
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About the Book

Francis Buchanan was born in Scotland in 1762 and qualified as a medical doctor in 1783. He made several journeys to Asia and went on to become one of British India's foremost surveyors. His travel accounts/surveys have been published and republished in India.

In this volume Prof. Willem van Schendel presents a 200 years old, virtually unknown document 'An Account of a Journey Undertaken by Order of the Board of Trade Through the Provinces of Chittagong and Tiperah in Order to Look Out for the Places Most Proper for the Cultivation of Spices' by Francis Buchanan, M.D. Buchanan undertook this journey in 1798 and only one copy of his report survives in the British Library which has remained unpublished so far.

It is the earliest detailed travel account on the region that we have and is a significant source of new information on eighteenth century Bengal, Arakan, Tripura, Cachar, Manipur, Mizoram and Burma.

His account is full of observations about social life, places of pilgrimage, ruins of centuries old Buddhist temples and stupas, etc. He also reports about quality of soil, geographical peculiarities and the state of agriculture, trade and local products in the regions he visited. The information furnished by him about the Chittagong Hill Tracts is simply invaluable for the re-construction of the history of the area.

The document is additionally important as a record of British expansion in the area. His account can also be seen as an example of how Europeans were beginning to understand the world about them more and more by means of a critical use of sources of information and by experiment. Further, the document being Buchanan's first full travel account is important for a proper understanding of his later surveys.

Finally, Buchanan is 'first and foremost an intellectual forebear of all social scientists trying to make sense of social structure and social changes in South Asia'. So historians, students of economy and social scientists all will find the account invaluable.

About the Author

Willem van Schendel is Professor of Comparative History at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. Besides contributing articles to various journals and edited collections, he has previously written Peasant Mobility; The Odds of Life in Rural Bangladesh and Three Deltas; Accumulation and Poverty in Rural Burma, Bengal and South India.

Introduction

Among the many problems that beset contemporary Bangladesh, underdevelopment and poverty are perhaps the most urgent. One aspect of underdevelopment which is often overlooked is the underdevelopment of knowledge. This is especially clear in the case of historical knowledge. While the other social sciences in Bangladesh have received a certain fillip from the considerable aid funds which have been flowing into the country since the early 1970s, the study of history has remained largely untouched. As a result, policies to over-come underdevelopment are based on the most sketchy understanding of longer-term processes of change in Bangladesh. Assumptions about the past usually take the place of actual insights. This is a result of the underdevelopment of historical research in Bangladesh, but also of a view among development planners that historical research is little more than a luxury.

In order to correct the many misunderstandings about patterns of development and underdevelopment in Bangladesh, it is crucial that various myths be exposed. One is that of Bangladesh as a helpless, inefficient society that has always needed outsiders to cope. This idea, coined by imperialist historians to justify colonial rule, fits the current situation of aid dependency like a glove. To counter this myth, nationalist historians have constructed an image of the precolonial period as a Golden Age. They blame the country's present ills on its subservient position, first in the British Empire, and now in the world economy at large. Very little effort is made to go beyond these attempts at apportioning blame, and to fmd out how processes of development and underdevelopment have actually been interwoven throughout the recent history of Bangladesh. A closer look reveals that underdevelopment has not only been imposed from without, but at times has been pursued by certain groups within Bangladesh society as well. Conversely, various development processes have been initiated in the past but these could not be sustained. The development history of Bangladesh is marked by frequent fluctuations, turn abouts, and decelerations. We need to understand these complex dynamics of social and economic change before we can hope to generate adequate solutions to the grave problems currently facing Bangladesh.

**Contents and Sample Pages**










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