A Palladian mansion filled with Western art in the center of old Calcutta, the Mughal emperor's letters in an archive in the French Alps, the names of Italian adventurers scratched into the walls of Egyptian temples. In this imaginative book, Maya Jasanoff delves into the stories behind vestiges such as these to uncover the lives of people, ...
A Palladian mansion filled with Western art in the center of old Calcutta, the Mughal emperor's letters in an archive in the French Alps, the names of Italian adventurers scratched into the walls of Egyptian temples. In this imaginative book, Maya Jasanoff delves into the stories behind vestiges such as these to uncover the lives of people, collectors in India and Egypt, who lived on the frontiers of the British Empire during a pivotal century of its formation. From household names like Clive of India and Napoleon Bonaparte to little-known figures such as the circus strongman Giambattista Belzoni or the Swiss mercenary Antoine Polier, "Edge of Empire" traces the exploits of collectors to tell an intimate history of imperialism. Jasanoff delves beneath the grand narratives of power, exploitation, and resistance to look at the British Empire through the eyes of the people caught up in it. What does empire look like from the inside out? Written and researched on four continents, "Edge of Empire" makes an original and significant contribution to international history. Jasanoff offers a fresh account of European imperialism that challenges received wisdom about how imperial power was asserted in Asia and the Middle East. She shows us that Britain's expansion involved more than the mere imposition of an "imperial project" over foreign subjects, and that the stereotypical "white man's burden" ideology emerged only after long years of cross-cultural encounters. "Edge of Empire" enters a world where people lived, loved, mingled, and identified with one another in ways richer and more complex than previous accounts have led us to believe were possible. And as this book demonstrates, traces ofthat world remain tangible-and topical-today. An innovative, persuasive, and provocative work of history.
New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 404 p. Contains: Illustrations.
Publishers Weekly, 2005-07-11 In her debut book, Jasanoff challenges the idea that the British Empire imposed its own culture on its colonies, arguing instead that the empire thrived because it was able to "find ways of accommodating difference." As evidence, she traces the history of objects collected in India and Egypt by "border-crossers": diplomats and soldiers, "aristocrats and Grand Tourists" who, by collecting artifacts, influenced the homeland's perception of colonized countries. As she explains how various collections were put together through theft, excavation and connoisseurship, she personalizes the history by profiling those who were fueled to collect by the need for reinvention and pursuit "of social status and wealth." Jasanoff's narrative is most notable for synthesizing the study of architecture, art and commerce, as well as military and cultural history, and for digging deeper than predecessors. For example, in addition to the East India Company's infamous Robert Clive, she also profiles Clive's virtually forgotten son Edward, a much more ambitious collector. In this intriguing and readable book, Jasanoff, an assistant professor of British history at the University of Virginia, creates fertile common ground between the dominant stories put forth by postcolonial critics such as Edward Said and boosters like Niall Ferguson. 48 b&w illus. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (Aug. 30) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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