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2017 - Association for Asian Studies - Annual Conference Words: 250 words || 
1. Roth, Nicolas. "To Not Be Ignorant Like Frogs in a Well: Bābū Pyāre Lāl (1870-1917) and Vernacular Technical Literature in Provincial North India" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies - Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Toronto, Canada, <Not Available>. 2019-09-18 <>
Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: In 1885, at the tender age of fifteen, one Pyāre Lāl, son of a landowner in the village of Barotha near Aligarh, published a textbook of mathematics. It met with little success, but this did not deter the young author; over the next two decades, Pyāre Lāl would write dozens of books about everything from gardening and agriculture to sex and the afterlife. The result is a veritable library of textbooks, technical manuals, and volumes of general knowledge in Urdu and various forms of Hindi. From this substantial but little-studied archive and its creator’s extensive ruminations on its purpose and intended audiences, much can be learned about the engagement of provincial elites with both Western learning and modern “scientific” information on the one hand and indigenous knowledge systems on the other. Rather than a mere project of translation, Pyāre Lāl’s work represents a sustained and sophisticated effort to render both foreign and indigenous elite discourses culturally and linguistically accessible to a local general public, a process driven by both an idealist vision of national uplift through the dissemination of knowledge and the practical need to find and cultivate a reading and book-buying audience. While a number of academic works have recently traced these aspects of the emerging Hindi and Urdu publishing industry, little attention has been paid to the particular case of technical literatures with their explicit mandate to instruct and educate; the voluminous corpus of Pyāre Lāl’s writings serves as a case study to begin to fill this gap.

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