Kipling, Kim, and Anthropology

Kipling, Kim, and Anthropology

Length: 897 words (2.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Kipling, Kim, and Anthropology

It is widely recognised that the relatively recent sciences of anthropology and ethnology have often seemed in thrall to, and supportive of, the colonial project. Supposedly objective in outlook, anthropological discourse has often been employed to validate and justify theories of race, hierarchy, and power. So-called factual knowledge becomes a means through which racial stereotyping can be bolstered or created. The ethos of Western rationalism allied with the discourse of pseudo-science in Orientalism and Indology creates a body of knowledge which can be used as leverage in the acquisition ,or, retention of power. Such theories, however flawed, become essential ingredients in the process of defining the Other, inevitably a process which measures itself against definitions of the Self. Nineteenth-century anthropological investigations in India proclaimed a body of supposedly verifiable truths about the land and its people. In the process of formulating what or how the Indian people are, ideas of individual agency are stripped from them. Ronald Inden writes that essentialist ways of seeing tend to ignore the "intricacies of agency" pertinent to the flux and development of any social system (Imagining India. Oxford: Blackwell, 1990.p20).

Rudyard Kipling's Kim exemplifies this in a variety of ways. Kim reveals a genuine love and sympathy for India but remains a jingoistic product of its time and place. Benita Parry points out that the history of Kipling criticism mirrors the history of attitudes to the imperial encounter itself (Delusions And Discoveries: Studies on India in the British Imagination. London: Penguin, 1972. p205). Several of the characters in Kim illustrate the underlying links between imperialism and anthropology, even as Kipling himself seems to be engaging on a similar project. The encounter between the lama and the museum curator at Lahore is the first instance of this type of relationship in Kim. It is surely anomalous for the white curator to have the authority of knowledge in this meeting . The lama is meant to be a venerated Tibetan sage, and yet the curator presumes to educate him through "the labours of European scholars, who...have identified the Holy places of Buddhism"(p7). By cataloguing, labelling, and classifying Indian ritual and practice the curator has somehow acquired a body of knowledge which renders the lama helpless "as a child" (p7). Time and again in Kim it will be seen how Western knowledge is used to appropriate autonomy and agency from the Indian people.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Kipling, Kim, and Anthropology." 18 Jan 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Exploring Kim, by Rudyard Kipling Essay

- First of all to examine the qualities of this book we should approach it as an adventure story probably aimed primarily at adolescent boys. In this book the main character Kim is seeking to find his place in the country in which he was born, while at the same time struggling to find, or build, an identity for him. 'Who is Kim?' 'What is Kim?' Kim asks himself at several points in the novel, and although the plot has a loose picaresque structure, being held together by a journey, making it a kind of road novel, the theme of Kim needing to find himself seems to be the backbone of the story....   [tags: Rudyard Kipling Kim Orphans Essays]

Free Essays
2061 words (5.9 pages)

The Two Faces of Kim: An Investigation into Rudyard Kipling's Kim Essays

- The Two Faces of Kim: An Investigation into Rudyard Kipling's Kim "I would go without shirts or shoes, Friends, tobacco or bread Sooner than for an instant lose Either side of my head." The Two-Sided Man (Kipling 179) To think of "the two-sided man" is to think of the self-searching protagonist of Rudyard Kipling's Kim. "Burned black" and yet white, Irish and yet 'Little Friend of All the World', British and yet native, ruler and yet servant, Kipling's multi-faceted Kim must find his place in the social order of a society that he resides in but is not truly connected to (51)....   [tags: Rudyard Kipling Kim Essays]

Research Papers
2460 words (7 pages)

Rudyard Kipling's Kim Essay

- Rudyard Kipling's Kim Kim gives a vivid picture of the complexities in India under British rule. It shows the life of the bazaar mystics, of the natives, of the British military. There is a great deal of action and movement, for Kipling's vast canvas painted in full detail. The dialogue in the novel makes use of Indian phrases translated by the author, they give the flavor of native speech in India. They are also touches of the native behavior and shrewdness. Setting: The time the novel took place was around the late nineteenth century....   [tags: Rudyard Kipling Kim Book Report Essays]

Research Papers
1632 words (4.7 pages)

Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous Essay

- Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous Captains Courageous, by Rudyard Kipling, was referred to as a children’s nautical adventure story, but it has entertained audiences for generations. The main character in the story was Harvey Cheyne. Harvey is the son of a millionaire and a snobbish little brat. He acts pretty big around the crew of the ship he was aboard. The next important character is Manuel. Manuel is a Portuguese boy about Harvey’s age, which by the way is in his pre to mid teens....   [tags: Rudyard Kipling Captains Courageous]

Research Papers
949 words (2.7 pages)

Biography of Rudyard Kipling Essay

- Biography of Rudyard Kipling 1865 - Kipling is born in Bombay, India. 1871 - Kipling and his younger sister Alice are separated from their parents and sent to England to be educated. 1878 - Kipling enters public school in North Devon. 1882 - Kipling ends his formal education and returns to India to become a trainee journalist. 1886 - Publication of Departmental Ditties. Kipling begins to make a name for himself as a young writer of some repute. 1887 - Soldiers Three, In Black and White, The Phantom Rickshaw, Wee Willie Winkle, The Story of the Gadsbys, and the stories later collected in The Smith Administration, The City of Dreadful Night, and Letter...   [tags: Rudyard Kipling Writers Authors Essays]

Research Papers
1288 words (3.7 pages)

Anthropology is Quantitative Essay

- There is a lot of conflict to the question “is anthropology a science?” A lot of this conflict leads from defining what a science is, in the dictionary science is, “a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws.” (, 2011) Anything that can be studied is considered a science. Without science anthropology would be nearly impossible to study, science makes everything quantifiable....   [tags: Anthropology ]

Research Papers
959 words (2.7 pages)

History, Anthropology, And Cultural Anthropology Essay

- Anthropology encompasses four main aspects in the field: archaeology, linguistics, physical anthropology, and cultural anthropology. All four areas must collect data and find a way to interpret the data collected. Data is then interpreted with the use of theories. The data would be useless to any anthropologist without any meaning. Theory helps an anthropologist choose what data to collect and how to interpret the results. Authors McGee and Warms assert that theory “helps us think about who and what we are as human beings,” (2)....   [tags: Anthropology, Culture, Sociology]

Research Papers
1358 words (3.9 pages)

Essay on Rudyard Kiplings Kim

- Rudyard Kiplings Kim I must say that Rudyard Kipling's Kim can be interpreted as a project that articulates the "hegemonic" relations between the colonizer and the colonized during British imperial rule in India. Kipling's novel explores how Kim embodies the absolute divisions between white and non white that existed in India and elsewhere at a time when the dominantly white Christian countries of Europe controlled approximately 85 percent of the world's surface. For Kipling, who believed it was India's destiny to be ruled by England, it was necessary to stress the superiority of the white man whose mission was to rule the dark and inferior races....   [tags: Essays Papers]

Research Papers
793 words (2.3 pages)

Kim Kardashian Essay examples

- What is a feminist. What is sexuality. What can or can’t a woman do, that will not destroy her image. Those questions have been asked by many feminists, anti- feminists and scholars. Throughout time women have been criticized for their actions. Kimberly Kardashian, has been criticized since she entered the industry. Society has a different take on her actions, she can be “Read” in various ways, and she also can be seen as the negative aspect of women in today’s society. Kimberly Kardashian entered the entertainment industry, because a sex tape leaked, that she made with her ex-boyfriend....   [tags: Kim Kardashian]

Research Papers
1001 words (2.9 pages)

Anthropology Today Essay

- Anthropology Today In society today, the discipline of anthropology has made a tremendous shift from the practices it employed years ago. Anthropologists of today have a very different focus from their predecessors, who would focus on relating problems of distant peoples to the Western world. In more modern times, their goal has become much more local, in focusing on human problems and issues within the societies they live. This paper will identify the roles anthropologists today play, such as where they perform the bulk of their work, and what it is they do in both problem solving, as well as policy making....   [tags: Anthropology]

Research Papers
1735 words (5 pages)

Related Searches

Colonel Creighton is the last of Kim's surrogate fathers and, as a member of the Ethnological Survey and a government spy, it is he who facilitates Kim's assumption of place in his patriarchal heritage. It is Creighton's "fluent and picturesque Urdu" (p101) which convinces Kim of his merit and authority. The act of surveillance is closely allied to imperial control, however, Kipling masks this awareness from the reader by the use of euphemism, double talk and code. Creighton's seemingly obscure gathering of knowledge represents considerably more than a disinterested desire to gain entry to the Royal Society. Using terms such as "Great Game" creates a conceptual distance from the realities of government and colonial administration. Threats to the Indian nation come from Russians, French, and five kings "who had no business to confederate"(p18). The colonial view is taken as the world view in Kipling's tale. Characterising Colonel Creighton as manly, rational and scientific diminishes the paternal potential of the lama who appears increasingly passive, dependent, and feminized in accordance with Eastern stereotypes. Within the scheme of the novel Kim must relinquish his Indian loyalties in order to become a part of the imperial endeavour.

Although he is designated the "little friend of all the world" (p2) Kim reiterates racist theories about the inherent irrationality and disorder of the Indian psyche. Kim's value to Creighton, and therefore to imperialism, lies in his ability to 'pass' as a native. However, his sahibhood is stressed from the outset --" though he consorted on terms of perfect equality with the small boys of the bazar; Kim was white"(p1) and Kipling will not let the reader to lose sight of this core fact. Kim proves his racial superiority by his strength of resistance to Eastern mesmerism aided by the recitation of his multiplication tables. Mathematical rationality is more than a match for the mystical forces of the Orient! Kim repeatedly exploits his relationships with Indians but, far from questioning his motives, they prove to be complicit in the abstraction of the Great Game. Political realities of the era are ignored in favour of an implied 'natural' relationship between Sahib, Pathan, Tibetan, and Bengali.

Just as the museum curator patronised the lama, Kim itself has been viewed as a realistic representation of India. It acts as another example of how colonial powers judge themselves best qualified to represent the colonised nation to itself and others. Kipling's vision of "happy Asiatic disorder"(p56) on the Grand Trunk Road has often been read as indicative of the 'real' India instead of a nostalgic evocation of a much loved childhood. Blurring distinctions between caste and class, Kipling also manages to blur distinctions between the colonisers and the colonised. In many respects Kim has tended to function as an anthropological text as it cultivated popular opinion of India and the colonial experience. While the modern reader can recognise the ideology behind Kipling's reductive maxims it is important to appreciate the links between rational sciences and the core project of imperialism.
Return to