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Daniel Livesay’s first monograph comes at an opportune moment. With the recent release of digital projects such as the University of Glasgow’s Runaway Slaves in Britain database, historical attention has focused in on the lives of people of colour in early modern Britain.
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 1833, after centuries of resistance and rebellion by enslaved people, decades of popularly-mobilized antislavery protests, and years of economic struggle on colonial plantations, England’s Parliament initiated the process of slave emancipation in the British Empire.
In 1920, Sir Lionel Abrahams, an Assistant Under Secretary of State at the India Office, likened India’s finances in Britain to ‘rivers running into a lake on one side and so many rivers running out of the lake at the other side’.
A top-notch monograph in the Cambridge imperial and post-colonial studies series, this book reflects the kind of thorough coverage of issues plus analytical depth that one has come to expect from doctoral research in Commonwealth history at Oxford University.
If we survey the historical profession at the moment, there are plenty of academic squabbles going on, but the great debates that once divided historians seem to be in short supply. Time was when contests over the standard of living during the industrial revolution or about post-modernism and its application to the study of history would drive scholars into a frenzy of position taking.
The mid-1980s saw the launch of the ‘Studies in Imperialism’ series. As outlined by the general editor, John M. MacKenzie, the main concept behind this has been that ‘imperialism as a cultural phenomenon has as significant an effect on the dominant as on the subordinate societies’.
Despite the flurry of works over the past 20 years or so which have explored the course and consequences of colonial rule in India, and increasingly the impact that such rule had upon British society, the period before the Battle of Plassey has remained for the most part insulated from questions about the ideologies and operations of territorial governance.
Nuala Zahedieh’s The Capital and the Colonies explains the rise of London to preeminence in the Atlantic economy.
There is a long-standing tradition of joint-authored works that seek to understand the economics of British imperialism from the perspective of its underlying cultural assumptions and practices.