Book Talk by John Whelpton

John Whelpton
Jang Bahadur in Europe

Organised by Social Science Baha
30 March 2016 (Wednesday), Kathmandu

This talk looked at the 1850 visit to London and Paris by Jang Bahadur Rana, founder of the Rana family regime which ruled Nepal from 1846 to 1951. As the first Hindu head of government to cross the `kalo pani‘ and travel to Europe, Jang was a media sensation, while his first-hand observation of British power led him to side with the East India Company against the revolt of 1857 in northern India. The speaker drew on material from his book Jang Bahadur in Europe: The First Nepalese Mission to the West, now being published in a revised edition by Mandala Book Point in Kathmandu. This combines a translation and commentary on an account of the embassy written by one of Jang’s travelling companions with extensive extracts from contemporary British and French press coverage, now including a recently discovered article published under the name of Moti Lal Singh, the Nepali crossing sweeper taken into Jang’s employment after a chance meeting in London.

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John Whelpton was a VSO English lecturer with Tribhuvan University from 1972 to 1974, working at Shri Thakur Ram Campus in Birgunj and Amrit Science Campus in Kathmandu. He obtained his doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1987, with a study of the origins of the Rana regime. He has since been based in Hong Kong, where he is an honorary research associate of the Catholic Studies Centre at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Dr Whelpton’s publications include ‘Political Violence in Nepal from “Unification” to “Janandolan I”: The Background to “People’s War”’ in Marie Lecomte-Tilouine (ed) Revolution in Nepal: An Anthropological and Historical Approach to the People’s War (2013); Nationalism and Ethnicity in Nepal (2008) (co-edited with David Gellner and Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka); A History of Nepal (2005); People, Politics and Ideology: Democracy and Social Change in Nepal (1999) (co-authored with Martin Hoftun and William Raeper); and Kings, Soldiers and Priests: Nepalese Politics and the Rise of Jang Bahadur Rana, 1830-1837 (1991).

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