By Karuna Mantena
Alibis of Empire provides a singular account of the origins, substance, and afterlife of overdue imperial ideology. Karuna Mantena demanding situations the concept that Victorian empire used to be essentially legitimated by way of liberal notions of growth and civilization. in reality, because the British Empire received its farthest achieve, its ideology used to be being dramatically remodeled by way of 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 pondering used to be a shift in perform towards versions of oblique rule. As Mantena exhibits, the paintings of Victorian felony pupil Henry Maine used to be on the heart of those momentous alterations. Alibis of Empire examines how Maine's sociotheoretic version of "traditional" society laid the foundation for the culturalist good judgment of overdue empire. In charting the circulation from liberal idealism, via culturalist clarification, to retroactive alibi inside of nineteenth-century British imperial ideology, Alibis of Empire reveals a extraordinary and pervasive dynamic of contemporary empire.
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Additional resources for Alibis of Empire: Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal Imperialism
53 This insistence that governing practices and institutions demanded profound alterations depending on the virtues and intelligence of a people, or in his terms the “state of society” or “stage of civilization,” was of paramount importance to his defense of imperial despotism. ”54 The exercise of liberty to function as a means of improvement, like all principles of government, was dependent on the antecedent character of the society in question. Mill’s accounts of the various historical stages of civilization, and the sociological and psychological portraits attached to them, were never carefully elaborated.
14 This was one of Burke’s central criticisms against Hastings. Hastings, having CRISIS OF LIBERAL IMPERIALISM 25 ignored this fundamental principle thus undermined the possibility of both stable and moral government. Burke was certainly mistaken to construe Hastings as a zealous innovator, bent on implementing English ideas and institutions with no regard to native customs and institutions. Hastings was a patron of Oriental learning, instrumental in the establishment of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and the attempted codiﬁcation of Hindu and Muslim law for integration into Anglo-Indian legal administration.
The central tenets of liberal imperialism were challenged as various forms of 22 C H A P T E R O N E rebellion, resistance, and instability in the colonies precipitated a broadranging reassessment of the means and ends appropriate to ruling a disparate and expanding empire. In particular, the equation of “good government” with the improvement of native society, which was at the core of the discourse of liberal empire, would be subject to mounting skepticism. Inﬂuential critics such as James Fitzjames Stephen and Henry Sumner Maine cast doubt upon the philosophical assumptions underlying, and political consequences entailed by, the liberal-imperial idiom of improvement.