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Edge of Empire: Lives, Culture, and Conquest in the East, 1750-1850
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...
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 of that world remain tangibleand topicaltoday.An innovative, persuasive, and provocative work of history.
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