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Ideology and empire in eighteenth century India : the British in Bengal, 1757-93 /
Robert Travers.
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2007.
xvi, 273 p. : map.
0521861454 (hardback), 9780521861458 (hardback)
More Details
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2007.
0521861454 (hardback)
9780521861458 (hardback)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2008-04-01:
Britain's Indian empire was the greatest single enterprise in the whole era of European overseas expansion, and its impression on South Asia endures. Like all empires before and since, it devoted much intellectual energy throughout its existence to explaining and justifying to itself exactly what it was doing and why, as well as projecting what the hoped for result would be. Travers examines the early stages of this process, during the eras of Lord Clive and Warren Hastings, in this well-researched, carefully nuanced monograph. Some of the East India Company's officials saw themselves as heirs to the "ancient constitution" of the Mughal Empire, which had set patterns of governance they saw themselves reviving and improving. The company's numerous and bitter critics used the same ancient constitution trope to belabor the company and its officials for corrupting and plundering India. In the end, the British government settled the question (at least temporarily) by asserting control of the company and, during Cornwallis's governor generalship, laying the foundations of the "military fiscal" Raj, whose rationalization would be very different--leading a backward society toward the sunlit uplands of Victorian modernity. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. R. A. Callahan emeritus, University of Delaware
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' and important...' Journal of Modern Asian Studies
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 2008
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Bowker Data Service Summary
This is a study of British politics and political thought in Bengal in the 18th century. It is a groundbreaking contribution to the burgeoning field of 'new imperial history'.
Description for Bookstore
A groundbreaking analysis of the construction of the British Empire in late eighteenth-century India. After the conquest of Bengal, Britons confronted the anomaly of a European trading company acting as an Indian ruler, and tried to build their authority on the basis of an 'ancient constitution', from the Mughal Empire.
Main Description
Robert Travers' analysis of British conquests in late eighteenth-century India shows how new ideas were formulated about the construction of empire. After the British East India Company conquered the vast province of Bengal, Britons confronted the apparent anomaly of a European trading company acting as an Indian ruler. Responding to a prolonged crisis of imperial legitimacy, British officials in Bengal tried to build their authority on the basis of an 'ancient constitution', supposedly discovered among the remnants of the declining Mughal Empire. In the search for an indigenous constitution, British political concepts were redeployed and redefined on the Indian frontier of empire, while stereotypes about 'oriental despotism' were challenged by the encounter with sophisticated Indian state forms. This highly original book uncovers a forgotten style of imperial state-building based on constitutional restoration, and in the process opens up new points of connection between British, imperial and South Asian history.
Table of Contents
Preface and acknowledgementsp. vii
Abbreviations and note on currencyp. xi
Glossary of Indian termsp. xiii
Map of Bengal and Bihar in the Eighteenth Centuryp. xvii
Introductionp. 1
Imperium in imperio: the East India Company, the British empire and the revolutions in Bengal, 1757-1772p. 31
Colonial encounters and the crisis in Bengal, 1765-1772p. 67
Warren Hastings and 'the legal forms of Mogul government', 1772-1774p. 100
Philip Francis and the 'country government'p. 141
Sovereignty, custom and natural law: the Calcutta Supreme Court, 1774-1781p. 181
Reconstituting empire, c. 1780-1793p. 207
Epiloguep. 250
Bibliographyp. 254
Indexp. 269
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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