India In Edinburgh: 1750s to the present, as the title suggests, is an extremely fascinating book. The Editor of the volume, Roger Jeffery has brought together 10 original, well-researched and well-written essays which bring to life the presence of India in the capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh. On the surface Edinburgh is a purely Scottish city: its 'India' past is not easily visible. Yet, from the late 17th century onwards, many of Edinburgh's young men and women were drawn to India. The city received back money and knowledge, sculpture and paintings, botanical specimens and even skulls! Colonel James Skinner, well-known for establishing Skinner's Horse, brought his sons to Edinburgh for their schooling. Though Sir Walter Scott visited India only in his imagination (and tried to stop his own sons going there) he crafted a dashing India tale involving Tipu Sultan. The money from India helped create Edinburgh's New Town, Edinburgh's internationally-renowned schools (whose former pupils careers ranged from tea-planters to Viceroys) and people who came to Edinburgh from India established Edinburgh's second women's medical college. There are many such hidden stories of Edinburgh's India connections. In this path-breaking book they are brought to life, using novel approaches to look at Edinburgh's past, to see it as an imperial city, a city for which India held a special place. Focussing on the interactions between individual lives, social networks and financial, material, cultural and social flows, leading experts from Edinburgh's history provide fascinating detail on how Edinburgh's links to India were formed and transformed.
Roger Jeffery is Professor of Sociology of South Asia at the University of Edinburgh, where he has taught since 1972. He has written widely on aspects of north Indian society, based on intensive fieldwork in villages north-east of Delhi, as well as on health policy in South Asia. Among his edited collections are volumes on social aspects of forestry, women's education and fertility, aspects of contemporary Uttar Pradesh, and processes of marginalisation of ethnic and religious minorities in India. His current work focuses on the footprint of India in Edinburgh; with Hauke Wiebe he has developed two on-line walking tours (accessed through curiousedinburgh.org), featuring Indian connections in the city.