So immense an empire

John Marriott

in The Other Empire

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780719060182
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700341 | DOI:
So immense an empire

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The accumulation of empirical material illustrates a determined attempt to know the Indian landscape and village life in order better to exercise economic and political authority. This chapter highlights the more systematic, centralized, totalizing and abstract bodies of knowledge based on fundamental discourses of race, caste and criminality. Until the late eighteenth century orientalist interests in ancient language and culture had prevailed. With the expansion of British control and the attendant demands for an efficient and informed administrative system, however, new types of knowledge were necessary. Equally, and to an extent autonomously of imperial exigencies, the survey represented a new mode of observation akin to that taking place in the metropolitan context. There were continuities with previous knowledge producing processes, but in surveys the accumulation and commodification of observable materials as a scientific enterprise to know India was quite novel.

Keywords: political authority; discourses of race; caste; criminality; eighteenth century; commodification; economic authority; imperial exigencies

Chapter.  14092 words. 

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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