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Look Inside Nabobs

Empire and Identity in Eighteenth-Century Britain

  • Date Published: August 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107671041


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About the Authors
  • In this book, Tillman Nechtman explores the relationship between Britain and its empire in the late eighteenth century through the controversy that surrounded employees of the East India Company. Labelled as 'nabobs' by their critics, Company employees returned from India, bringing the subcontinent's culture with them - souvenirs like clothing, foods, jewels, artwork, and animals. To the nabobs, imperial keepsakes were a way of narrating their imperial biographies, lives that braided Britain and India together. However, their domestic critics preferred to see Britain as distinct from empire and so saw the nabobs as a dangerous community of people who sought to reverse the currents of imperialism and to bring the empire home. Drawing on cultural, material, and visual history, this book captures a far wider picture of the fascinating controversy and sheds considerable new light on the tensions and contradictions inherent in British national identity in the late eighteenth century.

    • The first attempt to study the history of the nabobs using contemporary trends in cultural, material and visual history
    • Demonstrates the degree to which gender was a motivating issue in the conversation about empire and national identity by recognising the broad-ranging attacks made against women as part of the 'nabob controversy'
    • Expands on the significance of the attacks made on nabobs as part of a broad social movement rather than an exclusively political matter
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'Well researched and lucidly written, the book is a pleasure to read, and is perhaps particularly useful for readers who are newcomers to the primary and secondary literature of Britons' ideas about India and who seek a solid introduction to some of the cultural influences of the empire within Britain. It is also a handy synthesis of recent work on travel, race, and empire with a special focus on East India.' English Historical Review

    Review of the hardback: '… thorough and sparkling study of imperial discontents …' Kathleen Wilson, Journal of British Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107671041
    • length: 282 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.38kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: an imperial footprint
    1. An India of the mind: enlightenment and empire in eighteenth-century South Asia
    2. 'Flesh and blood cannot bear it': private lives and imperial taxonomies in late eighteenth-century British India
    3. The nabob controversy: debating global imperialism in the public sphere
    4. Imperial clutter: the nabob controversy and the public sphere
    5. Nabobinas: gender, luxury, race, and empire

  • Author

    Tillman W. Nechtman, Skidmore College, New York
    Tillman W. Nechtman is Assistant Professor of British and British Imperial History at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. He is the author of numerous articles on British imperial history.

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