University of Iowa

‘Drunkards Beware!’ — a SASP Seminar March 31

March 23rd, 2011

What: South Asian Studies Program seminar
When: Thursday March 31, 2011, at 4 p.m.
Where: 468 Phillips Hall
Who: Eric Colvard, a doctoral candidate in history
Topic: “Drunkards Beware!: Temperance and Nationalist Politics in India in the 1930’s”

Abstract: Eric Colvard’s dissertation traces the evolution of the notion that Indians have historically eschewed drink. In the 1880’s, mass movements emerged in the Bombay Presidency, agitating for greater access to alcohol. In the 1920’s, increasingly radical Indian nationalists consciously invoked the image of the Abstemious Indian as a symbol of national purity in a context of increasing colonial contamination. By the late 1930’s, the height of the Indian freedom struggle, nationalists sought to impose on the population of India, many of them drinkers, a new standard for moral behavior based on an imagined past. As nationalists took the levers of state power from their colonial predecessors, the Abstemious Indian, once a rhetorical figure deployed in the service of the global temperance movement and nationalist politics, inspired the inclusion of prohibition as state policy in the Constitution of Free India.