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Climate, Race, and Imperial Authority: The Symbolic Landscape of the British Hill Station in India

Judith T. Kenny
Annals of the Association of American Geographers
Vol. 85, No. 4 (Dec., 1995), pp. 694-714
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2564433
Page Count: 21
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Abstract

Nostalgia for home is quite natural among expatriates. The English country life recreated in the hill stations of India, however, was elaborated on by the greater prestige of an imperial people. This paper examines the hill station as a landscape type tied to nineteenth-century discourses of imperialism and climate. Both discourses serve as evidence of a belief in racial difference and, thereby, the imperial hill station reflected and reinforced a framework of meaning that influenced European views of the non-western world in general. Because the hill station was seen as a resource to be protected for use by the British ruler, the standards used in colonial settlement planning are framed in these discourses of privilege and difference. Primary attention is given to the high imperial age from 1870 to 1914 when construction activity was greatest. Ootacamund, the summer capital of the Madras presidency in southern India, serves as the case study for evaluating this landscape type.

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