Abstract

Abstract:

In the thirty years since the publication of C.A. Bayly’s Imperial Meridian, the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century British Empire has moved definitively from the “sidelines” to the center of British imperial historiography. This article asks how Bayly’s method and argument might be transplanted to help us understand different periods of colonial development, inspired both by his call to situate the growth of the British Empire in the context of global political and economic crisis and a recent efflorescence in scholarship on the earlier period of East India Company expansion in Asia. Refocusing analysis on the Company rather than the state, and thinking about the more short-term responses to radical dislocations of commercial and political power in India, this article proposes that the early eighteenth century can be understood both as a foundation for later transformations as well as a critical moment of empire building in itself. More broadly it suggests an approach to the history of empire that is as evolutionary as it is revolutionary, one which is perhaps defined by multiple meridians in time and space.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1532-5768
Launched on MUSE
2020-07-30
Open Access
No
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