A fascinating and devastating account of the East India Company scandal that laid the foundation of the British Empire. Dirks explains how the substitution of imperial authority for Company rule helped erase the dirty origins of empire and justify the British presence in India. The Scandal of Empire reveals how the conquests and exploitations of the Company were critical to England’s development in the eighteenth century and beyond, and how the empire projected its own scandalous behavior onto India itself.
“[T]his lucid and masterful interpretive essay serves as a timely reminder that modern empires, caught in ideological contradictions of their own making, are fundamentally unpleasant, oppressive, and immoral formations. A stimulating contribution to contemporary debates.”—Dipesh Chakrabarty, Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College, The University of Chicago
“This is a brilliant work of historical excavation that exposes the foundation of modern Britain in the scandals of empire. Dirks shows that, contrary to the imperialist ideologues then as now, the scandals of conquest, violence, and oppression were at its center, not its incidental sideshow.”—Gyan Prakash, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History, Princeton University
“In this timely and important intervention on empires--both past and present--Nicholas Dirks makes a compelling critique of Britain's imperial relation to India. Scandal, conquest, and empire, he argues, were central to the making of modern Britain. This is a seminal contribution to current debates on empires--their rise, decline and fall.”—Catherine Hall, Chair Emerita of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership, University College London
“Dirks's own extensive research and writing as a historian of India provide him with a perspective that enriches his rereading of the Empire's origins in scandal and elucidates them for scholars and lay readers alike.”—Michael Fisher, Historian