Early Colonial India Beyond Empire

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Since 1947, the relationship between Indian society and the British empire has provided the most important of reference for scholars writing about the history of modern India. India is often treated merely as an exemplar of the colonial condition. As a result, scholars have failed properyl to examine modem India's participation in global processes of historical change, and been reluctant adequately to 'provincialize' Europe. This review argues that historians need to move beyond this imperial frame of reference if they are to explain the transition to, or characteristics of, British rule in the subcontinent. Placing modem India in a broader comparative context allows one to see how the colonial subcontinent participated in an uneven but broadly comparative set of process which occurred across Asia as well as Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There are for example, important parallels between the process of active state-, economy-, and culture-formation occurring in France, Germany, and India in the nineteenth century, for example. This comparative approach would not denigrate the importance of 'colonialism' as an analytical category. It might, though, allow historians to produce a more satisfying interpretation of the difference between colonial and non-colonial states and societies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)951 - 970
Number of pages20
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


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