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Some 70 years after the British left India it is timely to look back at how the kings and queens of the United Kingdom came to amass one of the largest private collections of South Asian art in the world. Two conjoined exhibitions currently showing at the Queen’s Gallery do just that.
Christian Wolmar’s latest tome Railways and The Raj: How the Age of Steam Transformed India is a welcome addition to his existing repertoire of books on railways across the world. The volume offers an accessible account of the history of the railways of the Raj since the railway operations commenced in India in 1853.
Next year will mark the centenary of one of the most extreme and brutal displays of colonial power and violence, the so called Amritsar Massacre of 1919. The massacre took place in a public park called Jallianwala Bagh in the city of Amritsar where British Indian army’s Colonel Reginald Dyer on 13 April 1919 ordered his troops to fire on unarmed protestors gathered there.
Questions of conspiracy and collusion loom large in these modern times. Historically, the revelation of obfuscated, ephemeral crimes has often tested the integrity of a state’s judicial apparatus. An investigating body may trace elaborate webs of influence and create exacting chronologies of events to test the veracity of witnesses’ testimonies.
This week in Reviews in History we are focussing on a single book, Jon Wilson's India Conquered: Britain's Raj and the Chaos of Empire. We invited five reviewers to contribute to a round table discussion and take up different aspects of the book, with the author then responding to each in turn.
In this history of representations and knowledge formation Sanjay Subrahmanyam turns a historian’s gaze to the problems both implicitly and explicitly embedded in all histories of the early modern and modern world: why did Europeans represent and construct India and by extension, the non-European world in the ways that they did? Why and how did these constructs evolve?
On 27 April 1913, in the early hours of the morning, the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, acting on behalf of a Consortium of five western powers, and representatives of the republican government of China signed what became known as the Reorganisation Loan.
I was recently in a conversation with a friend who told us that his parents, who were communists in New Zealand, used to make him sit through slide shows on China in the 1970s. Young Philip was subjected to these presentations because China was, his parents told him, the closest place to utopia on this earth.
Knowledge is power. Over the last three decades this old aphorism of political philosophy has been central to the study of colonialism in history, anthropology, and literary and cultural post-colonial studies. Revised and re-launched in social theory by Michel Foucault, the theme gained momentum after the publication of Edward Said’s highly influential book, Orientalism, in 1978.
The history of Bengal has been the focus of a great deal of recent scholarly attention. It has benefitted from waves of topical and methodological interest, but there has long been a need for a comprehensive book on the late colonial period that encompasses revisionist historical perspectives and their conclusions.