Michael Fisher: Extending Indian History into Britain

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Michael H Fisher’s lecture was an extraordinary tour de force. Of course, it was a much-awaited treat for those familiar with Prof. Fisher’s rigorous and thorough scholarship. The presentation took the audience on a spectacular journey through maps, rare photographs, paintings, books. It was exciting to travel with Fisher through the indoor lives and public images of men and women who visited or settled in England during that period: from seamen to Indian spouses, hired scholars to entrepreneurs, diplomats to students, servants to officials… His voice so vividly revealed how their diverse lives and what they wrote and published have affected the later courses of Indian and European histories. The evening was also ‘special’ for a certain kind of magnetism that brought two unlike poles together. Indeed, Prof. Jonathan Gil Harris, whose PRISM lecture ‘The First Firangis’ explored the notion of Indianness vis-a-vis foreignness in the context of the first settlers in India, served as Chair during the lecture. Getting Fisher and Gil Harris to share a desk helped LILA see itself as a space facilitating exchange of ideas and actors from different spaces.