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Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire

Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A fresh approach to the history of British imperialism argues that class, not race, was the driving force behind the Empire

With the return of Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997, the empire that had lasted three hundred years and upon which the sun never set loosened its hold on the world and slipped into history. But the question of how we understand the British Empire — its origins, nature, purpose, and effect on the world it ruled — is far from settled. In this incisive new work, already being hailed as a landmark, David Cannadine looks at the British Empire from a new perspective — through the eyes of those who created and ruled it--and offers fresh insight into the driving forces behind the Empire. Arguing against the views of Edward Said and others, Cannadine suggests that the British were motivated not by race but by class. The British wanted to domesticate the exotic world of their colonies and to reorder the societies they ruled according to an idealized image of their own class hierarchies. In reestablishing the connections between British society and colonial society, Cannadine shows that Imperialists loathed Indians and Africans no more nor less than they loathed the great majority of Englishmen and were far more willing to work with maharajahs, kings, and chiefs of whatever race than with "sordid" white settlers. Revolted by the triumph of democracy in Britain itself, the Empire's rulers embraced a feudal vision of the colonies which successfully endured until the 1950s.

Written with verve, clarity, and wit — and characterized throughout by highly original thinking — Ornamentalism will fundamentally alter the way we view the British Empire.

Review:

"A thoughtful and spirited book.... In the privacy of their small worlds, away from the postmodernists and the radical historians writing 'peripheral' history, there can be heard fond retrospects of the empire and its pageantry by ordinary, unfashionable men and women. Were these people to tell us what they recall of the empire's doings, I suspect that they would echo some of the truths of Cannadine's subtle and learned retrieval of that imperial history." Fouad Ajami, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Like everything that Cannadine writes...Ornamentalism is vigorous, stimulating, and bursting with ideas.... It should be read by anyone who is interested in politics and society in the British Empire." Philip Ziegler, The Spectator

Review:

"Cannadine is excellent on the uses of pageantry and on the kitschy extremes it had reached by the nineteen-twenties." New Yorker

Review:

"David Cannadine's Ornamentalism is so stimulating and original that it will now and forever after be read hand in hand with Edward Said's Orientalism. Cannadine's vision is quite different. He brilliantly recovers the world-view and social presuppositions of those who dominated and ruled the Empire, and thus restores the Empire to British social history. No other work succeeds as well in putting the history of Britain back into the history of the empire, and the history of the empire back into the history of Britain." Wm. Roger Louis, Editor-in-Chief, The Oxford History of the British Empire

Review:

"....Class in Britain is David Cannadine's favorite subject. His analysis of class in the imperial periphery is an expansion of his writings on class in the British homelands. Indeed, he sees both as parts of the same phenomenon: the ordering of society along hierarchical and "organic" principles, as though society in Britain and its overseas possessions were not constructed through human agency, but had grown naturally, like trees in native soil. Societies are seen by Cannadine as organisms rooted in history...." Ian Buruma, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopsis:

With the return of Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997, the empire that had lasted three hundred years and "upon which the sun never set" finally lost its hold on the world and slipped into history. But the question of how we understand the British Empire--its origins, nature, purpose, and effect on the world it ruled--is far from settled. In this incisive work, David Cannadine looks at the British Empire from a new perspective--through the eyes of those who created and ruled it--and offers fresh insight into the driving forces behind the Empire. Arguing against the views of Edward Said and others, Cannadine suggests that the British were motivated not only by race, but also by class. The British wanted to domesticate the exotic world of their colonies and to reorder the societies they ruled according to an idealized image of their own class hierarchies.

About the Author

"A lively account....As entertaining in its anecdotes as it is thought-provoking."--Boston Globe

"Cannadine is excellent on the uses of pageantry and on the kitschy extremes it had reached by the nineteen-twenties."--New Yorker

"A thoughtful and spirited book....In the privacy of their small worlds, away from the postmodernists and the radical historians writing 'peripheral' history, there can be heard fond retrospects of the empire and its pageantry by ordinary, unfashionable men and women. Were these people to tell us what they recall of the empire's doings, I suspect that they would echo some of the truths of Cannadine's subtle and learned retrieval of that imperial history."--Fouad Ajami, The New York Times Book Review

"A study of British imperial attitudes that is light in size and tone but filled with weighty significance. In less than 200 pages of text, he has reopened the debate on the British Empire and has brought fresh insight into the ways that nations project their power around the globe."--The Philadelphia Inquirer

"This is a lovely book, full of insights and unfamiliar perspectives. Were the rulers of Victoria's Empire more snobbish or more racist? They hardly knew the difference, for the common people of their own nation were very little less mysterious or threatening to them than the dark sullen masses of India or Africa. At least this much can be said, though, and David Cannadine says it: The snobbery diluted and tempered the racism."--John Derbyshire, National Review

"Cannadine writes with insight, felicity and wit."--The Washington Post Book World

Product Details

ISBN:
9780195146608
Subtitle:
How the British Saw Their Empire
Author:
Cannadine, David
Author:
null, David
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Location:
Oxford
Subject:
Great britain
Subject:
History, World | British | 19th C
Series Volume:
no. 66
Publication Date:
20010920
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
37 halftones
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.1 x 5.3 x 1 in 1 lb

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » Politics and Empire
History and Social Science » World History » British Empire
History and Social Science » World History » England » General

Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 288 pages Oxford University Press - English 9780195146608 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A thoughtful and spirited book.... In the privacy of their small worlds, away from the postmodernists and the radical historians writing 'peripheral' history, there can be heard fond retrospects of the empire and its pageantry by ordinary, unfashionable men and women. Were these people to tell us what they recall of the empire's doings, I suspect that they would echo some of the truths of Cannadine's subtle and learned retrieval of that imperial history."
"Review" by , "Like everything that Cannadine writes...Ornamentalism is vigorous, stimulating, and bursting with ideas.... It should be read by anyone who is interested in politics and society in the British Empire."
"Review" by , "Cannadine is excellent on the uses of pageantry and on the kitschy extremes it had reached by the nineteen-twenties."
"Review" by , "David Cannadine's Ornamentalism is so stimulating and original that it will now and forever after be read hand in hand with Edward Said's Orientalism. Cannadine's vision is quite different. He brilliantly recovers the world-view and social presuppositions of those who dominated and ruled the Empire, and thus restores the Empire to British social history. No other work succeeds as well in putting the history of Britain back into the history of the empire, and the history of the empire back into the history of Britain."
"Review" by , "....Class in Britain is David Cannadine's favorite subject. His analysis of class in the imperial periphery is an expansion of his writings on class in the British homelands. Indeed, he sees both as parts of the same phenomenon: the ordering of society along hierarchical and "organic" principles, as though society in Britain and its overseas possessions were not constructed through human agency, but had grown naturally, like trees in native soil. Societies are seen by Cannadine as organisms rooted in history...." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Synopsis" by , With the return of Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997, the empire that had lasted three hundred years and "upon which the sun never set" finally lost its hold on the world and slipped into history. But the question of how we understand the British Empire--its origins, nature, purpose, and effect on the world it ruled--is far from settled. In this incisive work, David Cannadine looks at the British Empire from a new perspective--through the eyes of those who created and ruled it--and offers fresh insight into the driving forces behind the Empire. Arguing against the views of Edward Said and others, Cannadine suggests that the British were motivated not only by race, but also by class. The British wanted to domesticate the exotic world of their colonies and to reorder the societies they ruled according to an idealized image of their own class hierarchies.
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