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Princes' game diaries

Animal Kingdoms: Hunting, the Environment, and Power in the Indian Princely States By Julie E Hughes, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, US $ 49.95

Published: Monday 05 November 2012

Animal KingdomsAnimal Kingdoms reaches new understandings of Indian princes through their engagements with animals and environments in their states. During the British Raj, princes believed that people and animals developed similar characteristics by inhabiting shared local environments.

They sought out quarry—fierce tigers, heroic boar, and agile sandgrouse—with traits they hoped to cultivate in themselves. Largely debarred from military activities by the British, they hunted to establish meaningful links with the historic battlefields and legendary deeds of their ancestors, and they used game animals to assert their territorial claims and sovereign rights and privileges.

They promoted select animals and environments at the expense of others, creating and maintaining landscapes of power that they endeavored to normalize as natural reflections of good rulership. Nevertheless, the more favourable conditions enjoyed by princes and wildlife alike in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries should not be taken as signaling any simple, causal relationship.

Sources include archival records in Hindi, Rajasthani, and English from select princely states and the Government of India, game diaries, hunting memoirs, miniature paintings, and period photography.

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