By Karuna Mantena
Alibis of Empire offers a unique account of the origins, substance, and afterlife of overdue imperial ideology. Karuna Mantena demanding situations the concept Victorian empire used to be basically legitimated via liberal notions of development and civilization. in reality, because the British Empire won its farthest succeed in, its ideology used to be being dramatically reworked 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 indicates, the paintings of Victorian criminal student Henry Maine was once on the heart of those momentous adjustments. 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 flow from liberal idealism, via culturalist rationalization, to retroactive alibi inside of nineteenth-century British imperial ideology, Alibis of Empire finds a amazing and pervasive dynamic of contemporary empire.
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Extra resources for Alibis of Empire: Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal Imperialism
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. The period of liberal ascendance is usually associated with the tenures of Lords Bentinck (1828– 35) and Dalhousie (1848–56).
No scheme of government can happily conduce to the end of government, unless it is adapted to the state of the people for whose use it is intended. . 24 CRISIS OF LIBERAL IMPERIALISM 27 Here Mill demonstrates how theories of native society and societal development generate speciﬁc strategies of imperial rule. For Mill, to break with the Orientalist philosophy of rule, that is, one that was premised on insinuating itself into existing indigenous traditions, required the rejection of the Orientalist image of Indian civilization.
Building upon the work of Maine, administrators such as Alfred Lyall, Lord Cromer, Arthur Gordon, and Lord Lugard, cumulatively elaborated a distinct political theory of indirect rule, institutionally grounded in a policy of decentralization and normatively associated with cosmopolitan pluralism. Finally, the coda to this study revisits the question of liberalism’s past and present relationship to empire and elucidates the theoretical signiﬁcance, and contemporary political resonances, of this revised account of nineteenth-century imperial ideology.