Colonial India and the Hajj, 1865-1950

Mecca, Kaaba, Haram

Colonial India and the Hajj, 1865-1950

Tuesday, 26 April 2016 - 2:00pm
Fellows' Dining Room
John Slight (St. John's College, Cambridge)
Dr F Devji
South Asia Seminar

During the colonial period, the British Empire ruled over more Muslims than any other European or Muslim power. The majority of Britain's Muslim subjects lived in India. The British Empire engaged with a number of areas of Islamic religious practices; one of the most important of these was the Hajj. This talk will offer some answers to the following questions: Why did Britain become so involved with the Hajj, and how did this engagement develop over time? What did this involvement mean for Indian colonial subjects, as they set out from their homes towards Mecca to perform the Hajj, and as some went about their work in the colonial 'Hajj bureaucracies' in Bombay, Jidda and elsewhere? Religious practice shaped imperial governance, and the colonial administration of the Hajj became an established feature of colonial administration, a regular fixture on the colonial calendar.

John Slight is a Research Fellow at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he also took his BA, MPhil and PhD degrees. He was a Research Consultant on The British Museum's major 2012 exhibition Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam. His first book, The British Empire and the Hajj, 1865-1956, was published by Harvard University Press in autumn 2015.

This seminar series is organised with the support of the History Faculty.