French Books on India

French Books on India banner by Magalie L’Abbé, project Web Designer

Background

This project was funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and produced an open access online resource for all those interested in writing on India in French. It was led by Dr Ian Magedera and Professor Kate Marsh at the University of Liverpool, initially involving Dr Corinne François-Denève (now at the Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines) and Kathryn Gibbs (now Dr Kathryn Dale). 

The Project

French Books on India is an ever-expanding e-library arranged in chronological order. The site lists books from 1531 to 2016, giving access to full-text copies of hundreds of titles that appeared before 1939 and offering short critical summaries of the most important items written by international experts. Presenting these books in chronological order, places them in history and reveals the fascinating development of recurring tropes in French-language representations of India. Crucially, the resource makes accessible again some books about India that were shifted out of the country after the de facto end of the French state’s presence there in 1954.

Version 17 (December 2015) is now available for download.

Collaborations

In addition to its academic and institutional collaborators, a dozen volunteers form an international collaborative network that has provided 19 peer-reviewed additions to French Books on India since 2011.

In July 2016, collaborators in West Bengal and the UK added Indian books on the French in India to the online resource. These mini-essays offer Bengali accounts of interactions with the French and other Europeans (including the British) and explore places in West Bengal influenced by the French.

Other recent developments include the extension of the resource’s listings from the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries thanks to collaborators in Paris, Montreal and London.

Responses

The service that this online resource provides is highly valued by the scholarly community:

Congratulations on this outstanding resource … I have struggled to find useful sources on India, and this bibliography will be a great assistance.

- Professor David K. Smith, Eastern Illinois University and Editor-in-Chief of H-France

In July 2016, Jack Kessler (founder of FYI France) wrote a feature about this ‘remarkable resource’. Davinder Pal Singh from the Panjab Digital Library has also commented: "Congrats for your project, this is a great effort".

Funding

Work on this project first started in 2008 with an AHRC Major Research Grant (September 2006 to October 2011) and was supplemented in 2014 by support from a UK India Education and Research Initiative and Indian University Grants Commission project on Encountering the Indian City.

Selected publication

Corinne François-Denève, Mircea Itu and Ian Magedera, French Books on India: From Dupleix to Decolonization (Glasgow: University of Glasgow French & German Publications, 2011). ISBN 9780852619223.

This is the first published version, with 60 bilingual annotations and a scholarly introduction which sets the scene for the usefulness of understanding what was written in French about India.

Further Information

For more information please visit the French Books on India FAQ page, or, if you are interested in working with us, contact Ian Magedera by email.