By Karuna Mantena
Alibis of Empire offers a singular account of the origins, substance, and afterlife of past due imperial ideology. Karuna Mantena demanding situations the concept that Victorian empire was once essentially legitimated by means of liberal notions of development and civilization. in truth, because the British Empire received its farthest succeed in, its ideology used to be being dramatically reworked through a self-conscious rejection of the liberal version. The cave in of liberal imperialism enabled a brand new culturalism that under pressure the risks and problems of attempting to "civilize" local peoples. And, hand in hand with this shift in considering was once a shift in perform towards versions of oblique rule. As Mantena indicates, the paintings of Victorian criminal student Henry Maine used to be on the heart of those momentous adjustments. Alibis of Empire examines how Maine's sociotheoretic version of "traditional" society laid the basis for the culturalist common sense of past due empire. In charting the circulation from liberal idealism, via culturalist rationalization, to retroactive alibi inside of nineteenth-century British imperial ideology, Alibis of Empire finds a outstanding and pervasive dynamic of recent empire.
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Additional info for Alibis of Empire: Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal Imperialism
26 And, in doing so, Mill presented the grounds for why India could be deemed capable of improvement as well as a rationale for why Britain, as an advanced civilization, had the necessary knowledge and moral duty to rejuvenate Indian society. For Mill, in every human society law was the essential mechanism for the transformation of conduct and thus the central tool by which Hindu manners could be freed from the sway of stultifying custom. 27 The debate on revenue and tax policy highlights the ways in which Mill’s argument for rationalizing law was meant not only to promote liberty and rationality in manners but also to cultivate incentives for productive work.
20 As a radical reassessment of Indian civilization, Mill’s History was a fullscale assault upon every claim made on behalf of the achievements of Indian arts, science, philosophy, and government. Mill argued that Orientalists like Jones, through long personal contact with India and empathy for the natives, had become partial and thus susceptible to the exaggerated claims of its scholarly and scientiﬁc advances. ” To do this, one had to form a “joint view of all the circumstances taken together” rather than be misled, as the Orientalists had been, by one or two marks of advancement—such as the grandeur of the Mughal courts, the existence of philosophy, or the intricacies of ancient legal treatises.
39 This link between the morality of empire and the critique of conquest was elaborated in their portrayals of early Company rule, which was consistently denounced as sheer criminality. 41 The fulﬁllment of the British debt owed to the inhabitants of India would be made through the radical reform of native society. 42 If British rule in India could ever be morally defended, it could only be with reference to its future potential rather than its past record. For these early reformers what was needed to overcome the precarious and illegitimate beginnings of empire in India then was “good government” that is, the creation of a form of rule that would work toward the improvement of the subject race, thereby intertwining the moral defense of empire with a platform of liberal reform.
Alibis of Empire: Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal Imperialism by Karuna Mantena