The Scandal of Empire: India and the Creation of Imperial Britain

The Scandal of Empire: India and the Creation of Imperial Britain

by Nicholas B. Dirks
ISBN-10:
0674027248
ISBN-13:
9780674027244
Pub. Date:
04/28/2008
Publisher:
Harvard

Paperback

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Overview

The Scandal of Empire: India and the Creation of Imperial Britain

Many have told of the East India Company’s extraordinary excesses in eighteenth-century India, of the plunder that made its directors fabulously wealthy and able to buy British land and titles, but this is only a fraction of the story. When one of these men—Warren Hastings—was put on trial by Edmund Burke, it brought the Company’s exploits to the attention of the public. Through the trial and after, the British government transformed public understanding of the Company’s corrupt actions by creating an image of a vulnerable India that needed British assistance. Intrusive behavior was recast as a civilizing mission. In this fascinating, and devastating, account of the scandal that laid the foundation of the British Empire, Nicholas Dirks explains how this substitution of imperial authority for Company rule helped erase the dirty origins of empire and justify the British presence in India.

The Scandal of Empire reveals that the conquests and exploitations of the East India Company were critical to England’s development in the eighteenth century and beyond. We see how mercantile trade was inextricably linked with imperial venture and scandalous excess and how these three things provided the ideological basis for far-flung British expansion. In this powerfully written and trenchant critique, Dirks shows how the empire projected its own scandalous behavior onto India itself. By returning to the moment when the scandal of empire became acceptable we gain a new understanding of the modern culture of the colonizer and the colonized and the manifold implications for Britain, India, and the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674027244
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 04/28/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 1,170,764
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 2.64(d)

About the Author

Nicholas B. Dirks is Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface

Map of India, 1792

Prologue

1. Scandal

2. Corruption

3. Spectacle

4. Economy

5. Sovereignty

6. State

7. History

8. Tradition

9. Empire

Notes

Illustration Credits

Index

What People are Saying About This

In this timely and important intervention on empires--both past and present--Nicholas Dirks makes a compelling critique of Britain's imperial relation to India. Scandal, conquest, and empire, he argues, were central to the making of modern Britain. This is a seminal contribution to current debates on empires--their rise, decline and fall.

Catherine Hall

In this timely and important intervention on empires--both past and present--Nicholas Dirks makes a compelling critique of Britain's imperial relation to India. Scandal, conquest, and empire, he argues, were central to the making of modern Britain. This is a seminal contribution to current debates on empires--their rise, decline and fall. --(Catherine Hall, University College London)

Dipesh Chakrabarty

By assiduously drawing out necessary connections between European 'corruption' and imperial sovereignty in eighteenth-century British India, this lucid and masterful interpretive essay serves as a timely reminder that modern empires, caught in ideological contradictions of their own making, are fundamentally unpleasant, oppressive, and immoral formations. A stimulating contribution to contemporary debates. --(Dipesh Chakrabarty, author of Provincializing Europe)

Gyan Prakash

This is a brilliant work of historical excavation that exposes the foundation of modern Britain in the scandals of empire. Dirks shows that, contrary to the imperialist ideologues then as now, the scandals of conquest, violence, and oppression were at its center, not its incidental sideshow. Civilizing the "native" necessarily entailed the practice of barbarism, the assertion of imperial sovereignty required the exercise of despotism. We will never be able to look at either British history or imperialism without the record of repression and double-speak at their very heart. --(Gyan Prakash, Princeton University)

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