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Alibis of Empire:
Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal Imperialism
Karuna Mantena

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2010

Hardcover | 2010 | $49.95 / £34.95 | ISBN: 9780691128160
280 pp. | 6 x 9 | SHOPPING CART

eBook | ISBN: 9781400835072 |
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Alibis of Empire presents a novel account of the origins, substance, and afterlife of late imperial ideology. Karuna Mantena challenges the idea that Victorian empire was primarily legitimated by liberal notions of progress and civilization. In fact, as the British Empire gained its farthest reach, its ideology was being dramatically transformed by a self-conscious rejection of the liberal model. The collapse of liberal imperialism enabled a new culturalism that stressed the dangers and difficulties of trying to "civilize" native peoples. And, hand in hand with this shift in thinking was a shift in practice toward models of indirect rule. As Mantena shows, the work of Victorian legal scholar Henry Maine was at the center of these momentous changes. Alibis of Empire examines how Maine's sociotheoretic model of "traditional" society laid the groundwork for the culturalist logic of late empire. In charting the movement from liberal idealism, through culturalist explanation, to retroactive alibi within nineteenth-century British imperial ideology, Alibis of Empire unearths a striking and pervasive dynamic of modern empire.

Review:

"Mantena carefully situates [Henry] Maine in political debates of the Britain of his time. Her study features excellent accounts of the luminaries of liberal imperialism and their critics before turning to the writings of Maine, particularly his analysis of 'traditional societies' and the implications of that analysis for the revision of imperial law codes and for a new treatment of property. . . . [A] striking debut."--Choice

"It is Mantena's earnest engagement with the question of a liberal empire's invariable ends that will appeal to a set of readers well beyond the circle of political theorists, intellectual historians, and students of the British empire who are the target audience for this book, and for whom this book is necessary reading."--Ishita Pande, Economic & Political Weekly

"[H]er book is enormously rich. . . . Mantena's wide-ranging erudition amply bolsters her thesis . . . [which] serves as an invaluable corrective to flattened, univocal, and static accounts of the relationship between liberalism and imperialism. . . . She has written an extraordinary book that cannot be ignored."--Daniel I. O'Neill, Perspectives on Politics

"Mantena's main thesis serves as an invaluable corrective to flattened, univocal, and static accounts of the relationship between liberalism and imperialism. . . . Mantena has broken new intellectual ground in (he study of empire. Hers is a bold and novel argument that should become required reading for anyone interested in modern imperialism. In this sense, whether subsequent scholarly treatments of the topic concur with Mantena's argument in all respects is immaterial. She has written an extraordinary book that cannot be ignored."--Daniel I. O'Neill, Political Theory

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
INTRODUCTION: The Ideological Origins of Indirect Rule 1
CHAPTER ONE: The Crisis of Liberal Imperialism 21
CHAPTER TWO: Inventing Traditional Society: Empire and the Origins of Social Theory 56
CHAPTER THREE: Codification in the East andWest 89
CHAPTER FOUR: The Nineteenth-Century Debate on Property 119
CHAPTER FIVE: Native Society in Crisis: Conceptual Foundations of Indirect Rule 148
CODA: Liberalism and Empire Reconsidered 179
Notes 189
Bibliography 227
Index 255

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      File created: 11/10/2014

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