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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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
Limited preview - 2001
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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.

Professor Sir Christopher Bayly, KB, LittD, FBA, is Professor of Imperial and Naval History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St Catherine's College. He is currently Director of the Centre of South Asian Studies at Cambridge. He has published works on the history of the city of Allahabad in north India, Indian merchant communities, empire and information in India and the origin of nationality in South Asia. Professor Bayly was awarded the Wolfson Prize in History for 'lifetime achievement' in 2006 and the Royal Asiatic Society's medal in 2008. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Historical Society. He became a trustee of the British Museum in 2008.

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