January 2011 Ocr a Level Part a British Empire Question Essay

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January 2011 Part A What can you learn from this extract about the interpretation, approaches and methods of the historian? Refer to the extract and your own knowledge to explain your answer (30) Based on this extract the main argument put forward by the historian is about how the British were able to justify their right to rule in India because they were “saving Indian women” from the archaic world they lived in. The historian indicates that the British used this requirement to save the Indian women as an excuse to reinforce masculinity and remove the over-sexualisation present within Indian culture. British officials viewed India as a “degraded place” that needed British influence to make India a more civilised place to live. Furthermore from this idea of Britain’s right to rule India to save the Indian women is that the “figure of the abject Hindu woman” was shown all over the Empire, within the metropole and the periphery. Through this image the Hindu woman was being ranked in a hierarchy. This idea of women being ranked is similar to the Discourse Approach. Michel Foucault developed the Discourse Approach suggesting that humans create labels which decided whether a biological, cultural or linguistic difference is significant enough to form a new classification. This is similar to the interpretation shown by the historian in the extract because of the idea that we rank people depending on their race and ethnicity just like these Hindu women are being ranked as inferior. The woman was always going to be seen as inferior to men but now that European colonialists were reviewing this image the Hindu woman was seen as the “degraded symbol” of the weakness of her own culture. By this the historian is suggesting that the missionaries and the colonial officers are using this image of the Hindu woman to recognise these women as inferior to themselves and so

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