Orientalism and Race: Aryanism in the British Empire

Orientalism and Race: Aryanism in the British Empire


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Orientalism and Race: Aryanism in the British Empire by T. Ballantyne, Richard Drayton, Megan Vaughan

This study traces the emergence and dissemination of Aryanism within the British Empire. The idea of an Aryan race became an important feature of imperial culture in the nineteenth century, feeding into debates in Britain, Ireland, India, and the Pacific. The global reach of the Aryan idea reflected the complex networks that enabled the global reach of British Imperialism. Tony Ballantyne charts the shifting meanings of Aryanism within these 'webs' of Empire.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780230507036
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan UK
Publication date: 01/09/2007
Series: Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series
Edition description: 2002
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.02(d)

About the Author

TONY BALLANTYNE is Lecturer in History at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. His research focuses on the interconnections between South Asian and British history, with a particular emphasis on the intellectual and cultural networks that reshaped South Asia in the nineteenth century. His other publications include Between Colonialism and Diaspora: Sikh Cultural Formations in an Imperial World (2006) and Bodies in Contact: Rethinking Colonial encounters in World History (2005), co-edited with Antoinette Burton.

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Orientalism And Race: Aryanism in the British Empire 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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In the 1760s, as the British Empire expanded into Asia and the Pacific, its rulers proposed that certain peoples could be understood, and privileged, as a separate `Aryan¿ race. Aryanism suggested that this whole region had originally been peopled by successive waves of vigorous Aryans, culminating in British colonisation. Ballantyne traces how this idea ¿was used to naturalise, justify and celebrate British colonisation of South Asia.¿ Chapters 1 and 6 look at imperial notions of India, which were used as a template for understanding other colonised societies. Chapters 2 to 5 examine how the Empire used these to try to control New Zealand¿s Maori society. As ever, the empire exploited existing social divisions, to divide and rule, while claiming that it freed the most exploited from bonds of caste and priestly power. It called its domination `liberation¿, its exploitation `development¿ and its wars `pacifications¿. Unfortunately, Ballantyne commits what we may call the scholarly fallacy, asserting that the empire was woven together by webs of relationships, modes of discourse, rather than hammered into place by the capitalist mode of production. Only in passing does he note that the East India Company, the revenue manager for Bengal, collected increased revenues while famine killed a third of the people. Under Empire, rule, regular famines, in 1770, 1783 and throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, killed tens of millions. Ballantyne does not challenge the imperial myth that settlers, both military and missionary, benefit the host country, not their own individual gain. This is now transmuted into the liberal myth that immigrants benefit the host country. He claims that there was a `progressive¿ side of Aryanism, inclusive, globalising and non-racist. He praises the imperial policies of free flows of labour and products and ideas, and he opposes all forms of nationalism as exclusive and racist. This fits neatly into the Empire¿s hostility to `backward-looking¿ nationalism, and it also suits US imperial policy today. But empire is always undemocratic, because it is based on rule by one class over other nations. Empire benefits its rulers, never the peoples, whatever the forms in which people think.