Reading the Global: Troubling Perspectives on Britain's Empire in Asia

Overview

The global is an instituted perspective, not just an empirical process. Adopted initially by the British in order to make sense of their polyglot territorial empire, the global perspective served to make heterogeneous spaces and nonwhite subjects "legible," and in effect produced the regions it sought merely to describe. The global was the dominant perspective from which the world was produced for representation and control. It also set the terms within which subjectivity and history came to be imagined by ...

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Reading the Global: Troubling Perspectives on Britain's Empire in Asia

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Overview

The global is an instituted perspective, not just an empirical process. Adopted initially by the British in order to make sense of their polyglot territorial empire, the global perspective served to make heterogeneous spaces and nonwhite subjects "legible," and in effect produced the regions it sought merely to describe. The global was the dominant perspective from which the world was produced for representation and control. It also set the terms within which subjectivity and history came to be imagined by colonizers and modern anticolonial nationalists.

In this book, Sanjay Krishnan demonstrates how ideas of the global took root in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century descriptions of Southeast Asia. Krishnan turns to the works of Adam Smith, Thomas De Quincey, Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, and Joseph Conrad, four authors who discuss the Malay Archipelago during the rise and consolidation of the British Empire. These works offer some of the most explicit and sophisticated discussions of the world as a single, interconnected entity, inducting their readers into comprehensive and objective descriptions of the world.

The perspective organizing these authors' conception of the global-the frame or code through which the world came into view-is indebted to the material and discursive possibilities set in motion by European conquest. The global, therefore, is not just a peculiar mode of thematization; it is aligned to a conception of historical development unique to European colonial capitalism. Krishnan troubles this dominant perspective. Drawing on the poststructuralist and postcolonial approaches of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and challenging the recent historiography of empire and economic histories of globalization, he elaborates a bold new approach to the humanities in the age of globalization.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

CHOICE

Recommended.

Postcolonial Studies
Reading the Global is unapologetically literary, and brilliantly so.

— Chi-Ming Yang

The International History Review
An enterprising study...a stimulating work.

— Krishnan Kumar

Novel
A startling and welcome counterpoint.

— Weihsin Gui

Modern Fiction Studies
Exemplary.

— Karen Steigman

Bryn Mawr Review of Comparative Literature
In the four chapters of the book, Krishnan proceeds to demonstrate [his]contention with admirable care, creativity, and skill.

— Simona Sawhney, Bryn Mawr University

Choice
Recommended.
Postcolonial Studies - Chi-Ming Yang

Reading the Global is unapologetically literary, and brilliantly so.

The International History Review - Krishnan Kumar

An enterprising study...a stimulating work.

Novel - Weihsin Gui

A startling and welcome counterpoint.

Modern Fiction Studies - Karen Steigman

Exemplary.

Bryn Mawr Review of Comparative Literature - Simona Sawhney

In the four chapters of the book, Krishnan proceeds to demonstrate [his]contention with admirable care, creativity, and skill.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231140706
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 7/17/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Sanjay Krishnan is assistant professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction. How to Read the Global1. Adam Smith and the Claims of Subsistence2. Opium Confessions: Narcotic, by Commodity3. Native Agent: Abdullah Munshi's Global Perspective4. Animality and the Global Subject in Conrad's Lord JimConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

Columbia University Press

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