Beyond Tranquebar: Grappling Across Cultural Borders in South India
Esther Fihl and A. R. Venkatachalapathy (Eds.)
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

A rare Indian colony of the Danish empire. A place that fostered the modern printing press and Protestant Christianity in the subcontinent. A tourist haunt that was ravaged by the tsunami in 2004. This is Tranquebar, known as Tharangampadi, a charming coastal town in present-day Tamil Nadu.

Beyond Tranquebar is a collection of twenty-four essays by scholars who bring to relief the many dimensions of this town. The book takes us to seventeenth-century Denmark, as the kingdom strives to find a place in the thriving colonial enterprise. It moves east to Maratha-ruled Tanjore where gifts can shift the balance of power. It takes us to a place where ideas, textiles and furniture arrive and depart, from as far away as Serampore in Bengal and Copenhagen in Denmark—going beyond geography to contribute to literacy and education in India and alter tastes in distant Europe.

This volume examines the place from the perspectives of a diverse range of academic disciplines—social anthropology, art history, sociology of religion, ethnography and history. It enquires into the lives of natives and foreigners, i.e. Danish, German and British, as they grapple(d) across borders both physical and cultural, in the past and the present.

This collectionis unique in that it centres on activities which radiated from this important south Indian place, instead of seeing this place as an appendix to the national history of Denmark or to the Christian mission activities from Germany. Thereby, the authors and editors of this volume peg Tranquebar in its rightful place in the scholarly map.

This book will be useful for students and scholars of colonial history, South Asian studies and anthropology. They will benefit from the diverse strands of research a seemingly small place offers.

Esther Fihl is Professor, Department of Cross-Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and research leader of Tranquebar Initiative of the National Museum of Denmark. 

A. R. Venkatachalapathy is Professor, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai, India.

List of Figures and Maps


Publishers’ Acknowledgements

List of Abbreviations

Introduction: What Makes Tranquebar a Place?
Esther Fihl

Part I Competing Histories

1. Putting Tranquebar on the Map: Cultural and Material Encounters in Transnational Heritage Development
Helle Jørgensen

2. The Four Histories of the Village: Landmarks and Historical Identities
Kristian Grønseth

3. Processions and Chariot Festivals: Cultural Markings in Tharangampadi and Vailankanni
Peter B. Andersen

4. Between Patriotism and Regret: Public Discourses on Colonial History in Denmark Today
Astrid Nonbo Andersen

Part II Negotiating Morals and Historical Identities

5. The ‘Second Tsunami’: Disputed Moralities of Economic Transactions among Fishers
Esther Fihl

6. Risk and Opportunity in Post-tsunami Tharangampadi
Raja Swamy

7. From ‘Untouchable’ Scavengers to Dignified ‘Tribals’: On the Making of a New Kattunayakkan Identity
Caroline Lillelund

8. Dancing for Money, Men and Gods: Temple Women in Historical Perspectives
Stine Simonsen Puri

Part III Cultural Otherness and Colonial Interactions

9. Shipwrecked on the Coromandel: The First Indian–Danish Contact, 1620
Esther Fihl

10. The Tranquebar Tribute: Contested Perceptions during the Reign of Rajah Serfoji II
Simon Rastén

11. Personal Encounters in a Colonial Space: European Seeing and Knowing
Louise Sebro

12. Retracing Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg’s Path
Will Sweetman

Part IV Circulations of Faith and Knowledge

13. Making it in Tranquebar: The Circulation of Scientific Knowledge in the Early Danish-Halle Mission
Niklas Thode Jensen

14. The Life of a Tamil Convert: William Roberts Proselytising in the Wake of the Enlightenment
Raja Mylvaganam

15. Producing Difference: Childhood, Parenting and Mission in Colonial South India
Karen Vallgårda

16. The Bishop of Tranquebar and Shiva’s Elephant: Danish Missionaries and Indian Independence
Daniel Henschen

Part V Education and Networks of Print

17. Serfoji II of Tanjore and Missionary C. S. John: Education and Innovation in the Early Nineteenth Century
Indira Viswanathan Peterson

18. From Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg to Alexander Duff: Western Education in India, 1715–1835
Rajesh Kochhar

19. ‘This Great Benefit’: Print and the Cultural Encounter in Eighteenth-century Tranquebar
A. R. Venkatachalapathy

20. Translocal Networks: Tranquebar Mission Press in Eighteenth-century South Asia
Heike Liebau

Part VI Translocal and Intercontinental Tracks

21. Danish Homes in Colonial Tranquebar: Intercontinental Transfers of Material Culture
Martin Krieger

22. Peasant Featherbeds in ‘Royal Attire’: The Consumption of Indigo in Early Modern Denmark
Mikkel Venborg Pedersen

23. Radiating from Tranquebar: Education in Serampore, 1800–1845
Erik Gøbel

24. Encountering the Nicobar Islands: Danish Strategies of Colonisation, 1755–1848
Simon Rastén

Notes on Contributors


3-6-752 Himayatnagar, Hyderabad,
500 029 Telangana
Phone: (040) 27662849, 27662850
Copyright © The Bookpoint (India) Pvt. Ltd. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer and Privacy Policy
Terms and Conditions
Frequently Asked Questions