Empire Building

Empire Building : The Construction of British India, 1690-1860

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'Empire Building' is a new account of the East India Company's impact on India, focussing on how it changed the sub-continent's built environment in the context of defence, urbanisation, and infrastructural development.

Rosie Llewellyn-Jones examines these initiatives through a lens of 'political building' (using Indian contractors and labourers). Railways, docks, municipal buildings, freemasons' lodges, hotels, race-courses, barracks, cemeteries, statues, canals--everything the British erected made a political statement, even if unconsciously; hence this book is concerned less with architectural styles, more with subtle infiltration into the minds of those who saw and used these structures. It assesses, in turn, Indian responses to the changing landscape. Indians often reacted favourably to new manufacturing technologies from Britain, like minting and gunpowder, while the British learnt from and adapted local methods.

From military engineers and cartography to imported raw metals and steam power, Llewellyn-Jones considers the social and environmental changes wrought by colonialism. This period was marked by a shift from formerly private, Indian-controlled functions, like education, entertainment, trading and healing, to British public institutions like universities, theatres, chambers of commerce and hospitals.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 27.18mm | 557.92g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 24 Illustrations, unspecified
  • 1787388042
  • 9781787388048

Review quote

'Brick by brick, stone by stone, from canals to cantonments, Llewellyn-Jones masterfully reconstructs the infrastructure of empire in India. An engaging insight into a neglected area of imperial scholarship.' -- John Zubrzycki, author of The House of Jaipur 'Highly readable, full of overlooked detail, Llewellyn-Jones brings British India to life.' -- Roderick Matthews, author of Peace, Poverty and Betrayal: A New History of British India 'Offbeat and absorbing, this connects the politics, technology and aesthetics of state architecture of colonial India. With a fascinating series of studies of state buildings and superb illustrations, Llewellyn-Jones shows how the built environment of the Raj reflected the regime's view of itself and the culture of the people it ruled over.' -- Tirthankar Roy, Professor of Economic History, London School of Economics, and author of The Economic History of Colonialism 'A highly ambitious book linking art, architecture and engineering with education, scientific innovation and social history. An entertaining, well-researched and original contribution to current literature. I can think of no current competition which covers as much ground.' -- Caroline Keen, author of A Judge in Madras: Sir Sidney Wadsworth and the Indian Civil Service, 1913-47 'Political architecture is one of the lasting legacies of the British in South Asia. Bringing in the role of oft-forgotten engineers, architects and the Indian response to such changes, Llewellyn-Jones weaves together an engaging narrative of the construction of the visual and built environment in South Asia.' -- Yaqoob Khan Bangash, Director, Centre for Governance and Policy, ITU Lahore, and author of A Princely Affair: Accession and Integration of the Princely States of Pakistan
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About Rosie Llewellyn-Jones

Rosie Llewellyn-Jones PhD holds a degree in Urdu from SOAS University of London. A renowned historian of colonial India, she is Editor of Chowkidar, the journal of the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia. Her books include 'The Last King in India', also published by Hurst, and 'Lucknow 1857'.
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