Taming the imperial imagination : colonial knowledge, international relations, and the Anglo-Afghan encounter, 1808-1878 / Martin J. Bayly, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Bayly, Martin J., 1984- author.
Cambridge, United Kingdom : Cambridge University Press, 2016.
xv, 334 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Afghanistan -- Foreign relations.
Great Britain -- Foreign relations -- Afghanistan.
Knowledge, Theory of -- Political aspects -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century.
Afghanistan -- Foreign public opinion, British.
Public opinion -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century.
Imperialism -- History -- 19th century.
Colonists -- Afghanistan -- History -- 19th century.
Afghanistan -- Colonial influence.
Afghanistan -- Discovery and exploration -- British.
Afghan Wars -- Political aspects.
"Taming the Imperial Imagination marks a novel intervention into the debate on empire and international relations, and offers a new perspective on nineteenth-century Anglo-Afghan relations. Martin J. Bayly shows how, throughout the nineteenth century, the British Empire in India sought to understand and control its peripheries through the use of colonial knowledge. Addressing the fundamental question of what Afghanistan itself meant to the British at the time, he draws on extensive archival research to show how knowledge of Afghanistan was built, refined and warped by an evolving colonial state. This knowledge informed policy choices and cast Afghanistan in a separate legal and normative universe. Beginning with the disorganised exploits of nineteenth-century explorers and ending with the cold strategic logic of the militarised 'scientific frontier', this book tracks the nineteenth-century origins of contemporary policy 'expertise' and the forms of knowledge that inform interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere today. The book develops in three parts, each of which corresponds to a theme. Part one on 'knowledge' examines how British colonial knowledge of Afghanistan was constructed through the experience of early British explorers and their published travel accounts, focusing in particular on the works of Mountstuart Elphinstone, Alexander Burnes, and Charles Masson. Part two on 'policy' looks at how key policy decisions leading to the First Anglo-Afghan War were shaped by the knowledge provided by an Afghanistan 'knowledge community' based on this earlier body of work and the interpretations made by colonial officials. Part three on 'exception' considers the impact of the First Anglo-Afghan War on diplomatic relations, and charts the emergence of a particular 'idea' of Afghanistan mediated by inter-imperial visions of order, and the intellectual and cultural influences of a particular British frontier mentality"-- Provided by publisher.
Part I : Knowledge
Early European explorers of Afghanistan
Knowledge entrepreneurs
Part II : Policy
'Information... information': Anglo-Afghan relations in the 1830s
Contestation and closure: rationalizing the Afghan polity
Part III : Exception
The emergence of a violent geography, 1842-1853
Overcoming exception, 1853-1857
'Science' and sentiment: the era of frontier management, 1857-1878.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 308-324) and index.
9781107118058 (hardback)
1107118050 (hardback)
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