Liberalism And Empire: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought

Paperback | June 1, 1999

byUday Singh Mehta

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We take liberalism to be a set of ideas committed to political rights and self-determination, yet it also served to justify an empire built on political domination. Uday Mehta argues that imperialism, far from contradicting liberal tenets, in fact stemmed from liberal assumptions about reason and historical progress. Confronted with unfamiliar cultures such as India, British liberals could only see them as backward or infantile. In this, liberals manifested a narrow conception of human experience and ways of being in the world.

Ironically, it is in the conservative Edmund Burke—a severe critic of Britain's arrogant, paternalistic colonial expansion—that Mehta finds an alternative and more capacious liberal vision. Shedding light on a fundamental tension in liberal theory, Liberalism and Empire reaches beyond post-colonial studies to revise our conception of the grand liberal tradition and the conception of experience with which it is associated.

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From Our Editors

Liberalism is a set of ideals which favour individual rights and freedoms. In the case of the British Empire, however, this concept gave way to political domination. In Liberalism and Empire, Uday Singh Mehta takes a closer look at how this shift occurred. Historically, Britain perceived countries such as India as backward and unsophis...

From the Publisher

We take liberalism to be a set of ideas committed to political rights and self-determination, yet it also served to justify an empire built on political domination. Uday Mehta argues that imperialism, far from contradicting liberal tenets, in fact stemmed from liberal assumptions about reason and historical progress. Confronted with un...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:245 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:June 1, 1999Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226518825

ISBN - 13:9780226518824

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Strategies: Liberal Conventions and Imperial Exclusions
3. Progress, Civilization, and Consent
4. Liberalism, Empire, and Territory
5. Edmund Burke on the Perils of the Empire
Conclusion: Experience and Unfamiliarity
Index

From Our Editors

Liberalism is a set of ideals which favour individual rights and freedoms. In the case of the British Empire, however, this concept gave way to political domination. In Liberalism and Empire, Uday Singh Mehta takes a closer look at how this shift occurred. Historically, Britain perceived countries such as India as backward and unsophisticated because their culture was unfamiliar. This caused British liberal ideas to change from broad-minded to a limited view of what constituted an acceptable way of life. Mehta also brings the potent writings of conservative thinker Edmund Burke into the argument.