Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780-1870

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Cambridge University Press, 1996 - History - 412 pages
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In a penetrating account of the evolution of British intelligence gathering in India, C. A. Bayly shows how networks of Indian spies, runners and political secretaries were recruited by the British to secure information about their subjects. He also examines the social and intellectual origins of these informants, and considers how the colonial authorities interpreted and often misinterpreted the information they supplied. As Professor Bayly demonstrates, it was such misunderstandings which ultimately contributed to the failure of the British to anticipate the mutinies of 1857. He argues, however, that, even before this, India's complex systems of communication were challenging the political and intellectual dominance of the European rulers.

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Review: Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780 1870

User Review  - Tim C - Goodreads

Marking this as 'read' as I've read all of the chapters which are most relevant to my on-going PhD research (which is most of the book!), and will no doubt return to it again. Read full review

Review: Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780 1870

User Review  - Joshua - Goodreads

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. Apologist for empire or greatest living south Asianist? Maybe both! Read full review


Prologue surveillance and communication in early modern India
Political intelligence and indigenous informants during the conquest of India c 17851815
Misinformation and failure on the fringes of empire
Between human intelligence and colonial knowledge
The Indian ecumene an indigenous public sphere
Useful knowledge and godly society c 183050
Colonial controversies astronomers and physicians
Colonial controversies language and land
The information order the Rebellion of 18579 and pacification
Epilogue information surveillance and the public arena after the Rebellion

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Carolyn Steedman
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About the author (1996)

C.A. Bayly is Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge. He is winner of the 2004 Wolfson History Prize for his distinguished contribution to the writing of history.

Christopher Alan Bayly was born on May 18, 1945 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, United Kingdom. He graduated from St Antony's College. He was the pre-eminent historian of India and the British Empire and a pioneer of the field of global history. He wrote numerous books during his lifetime including The Local Roots of Indian Politics; Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars; Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire; Imperial Meridian; Empire and Information; The Origins of Nationality in South Asia; The Birth of the Modern World; and Recovering Liberties. In 2005, he received the Wolfson prize for history for his entire body of work. In 2007, he was the first scholar to be knighted "for services to history outside of Europe." He died of a heart attack on April 18, 2015 at the age of 69.

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