Title

Making Territory Visible: the Revenue Surveys of Colonial South Asia

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2007

Abstract

Once the British became a colonial power in south Asia in the eighteenth century, they had to struggle to determine the internal divisions and boundaries of the territories under their control. in north India, these units had been organized around various pre-colonial administrative divisions, such as parganas, which had never been mapped. With the introduction of detailed revenue (cadastral) surveys in the early nineteenth century, the British were able to map the parganas and other administrative units, thereby creating a durable record of property holdings. in the nineteenth century, they also allowed the colonial administrators to reorganize the old divisions into a well-defined and more coherent pattern that endured to form the geographical template of the modern state.

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