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The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library cordially invites you to a Seminar on ‘Writing the History of a Colonial Institution : The case of the Government Cattle Farm, Hissar’ by Dr. Brian P. Caton, Luther College, USA.
While historians have produced many studies of both public and private institutions of the colonial period, most have done so in pursuit of an argument contributing to the discussion of the dynamics of colonial power. Thus the institution appears as an instrument of colonizers’ oppression or as itself a site of struggle between colonizers, nationalists, subalterns, and other contenders for power. This lecture casts a narrative of the Government Cattle Farm, Hissar, in response to three different historical questions: military, scientific, and environmental. The question of the Farm’s origin is inescapably military in nature, and military matters remained important until the Army relinquished its supervision of the Farm to the Civil Veterinary Department in 1899. The work of the Farm was plainly scientific, as it sought to reproduce and reshape animal bodies in pursuit of “improved” breeds of domesticated species important to the mission of military supply. And, inevitably, the concentration of animal bodies within a relatively small territory had a notable effect on the local environment. In order to obtain a more thorough understanding of the history of the Farm, though, one must approach all of these questions, and their historiographies, in conjunction, rather than in a fragmentary manner.
Dr. Brian Caton is Department Head and Associate Professor of History at Luther College (Decorah, Iowa, USA). He has published on colonial Punjab and the Sikh community in several venues, including Indian Economic and Social History Review and the Oxford Companion to Pakistani History.