India on the move: the palanquin, the elephant and the railway
Baker, Julian Charles Tiepolo
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This thesis examines how British travellers experienced the Indian climate and landscape in, from and through three vehicles: the palanquin, the elephant and the railway. Much historical study has approached Western experiences of tropical nature with what this thesis calls a 'sedentary perspective'; that is, by studying the individuals, the sites and the representational practices connected with observant travel. The most obvious aspect of such travel – the mobility of soldiers, merchants, administrators and tourists – has been comparatively neglected. Travel in India, rather than merely connecting events across the expanse of the journey, was a significant space of experience and the mode by which travellers encountered their surroundings. This thesis argues that specific mobilities engendered distinct relations between the perceiving subject and the environment perceived. Means of transport – the palanquin, elephant and railway – were also means of observation, shaping the experience of landscape, ideas of tropical nature and the traveller as subject.