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The Emotions of New Education. A Transnational History of Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi

From the turn of the century to the 1960s, a cluster of new education movements emerged as a sign of new transnational emotional cultures. Together they led to major shifts in pedagogical and emotional practices. Protagonists of earlier more regional endeavors started to interact on a global scale, through reference to shared texts and practices, through common concepts and a common language, but increasingly also through personal contacts.

This project focuses on the history of the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi and traces how its pedagogical and national vision drew both from a reinterpretation of Indian traditions and transnational encounter. The institution, which catered to the education of young people from kindergarten to college, was founded after the First World War as an alternative to the colonial educational institutions. It took in Gandhi’s earlier experiments with education on the one hand and the encounter with German (and soon transnational) Reformpädagogik on the other. The aim of Jamia certainly was to impart knowledge, but what was even more important was the education and creation of new men and women, with new and strong emotions, who would bring about the social transformations required if India was to successfully face the future. Emotions, the project argues, were central for the diagnosis of the contemporary crisis of civilization; they were also central for overcoming the crisis through a new form of holistic education, which brought together the brain, the heart and the hand. From 1938, the ideas developed in and around Jamia constituted a major influence on Na’i ta’lim, the official educational policy of the Congress until the end of the 1960s.

The project will use the rich archive Jamia has produced, including not only pedagogical reflections and teaching material, but ranging from journals to public addresses, from theatre plays to children literature, from memoirs to oral history, not to mention the rich visual evidence.

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