1st Edition

Commodities and Culture in the Colonial World

    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Commodity, culture and colonialism are intimately related and mutually constitutive. The desire for commodities drove colonial expansion at the same time that colonial expansion fuelled technological invention, created new markets for goods, displaced populations and transformed local and indigenous cultures in dramatic and often violent ways.

    This book analyses the transformation of local cultures in the context of global interaction in the period 1851–1914. By focusing on episodes in the social and cultural lives of commodities, it explores some of the ways in which commodities shaped the colonial cultures of global modernity. Chapters by experts in the field examine the production, circulation, display and representation of commodities in various regional and national contexts, and draw on a range of theoretical and disciplinary approaches.

    An integrated, coherent and urgent response to a number of key debates in postcolonial and Victorian studies, world literature and imperial history, this book will be of interest to researchers with interests in migration, commodity culture, colonial history and transnational networks of print and ideas.


    Part 1: Making and Showing

    1. Mughal Delhi on my lapel: The charmed life of the painted ivory miniature in Delhi, 1827–1880

    2. Plates and Bangles: Early Recorded Music in India

    3. The Overland Mail: Moving Panoramas and the Imagining of Trade and Communication Networks

    4. Exhibiting India: Colonial Subjects, Imperial Objects, and the Life of Commodities

    Part 2: Place and Environment

    5. The Composition and Decomposition of Commodities: The Colonial Careers of Coal and Ivory

    6. Profaning Water: The Sacred and Its Others

    7. Settling the Land: the Village and the Threat of Capital in the Novel in Goa

    Part 3: Labour and Migration

    8. (Re)Moving Bodies: People, Ships and other Commodities in the Coolie Trade from Calcutta

    9. Anxiety, Affect and Authenticity: The Commodification of Nineteenth-Century Emigrants’ Letters

    10. Towards a Genealogy of the Village in the Nineteenth-Century British Colonial World: Mary Russell Mitford and Henry Sumner Maine

    Part 4: Texts in Motion

    11. Indigo and Print: the strange case of the 'Indigo-Planting Mirror'

    12. Al Jabr w’al Muqabila: H.S. Hall, Macmillan and the Coming Together of Things Far Apart

    13. Ulysses in Darkest Africa: Transporting Tennyson with H.M. Stanley and Edwin Arnold

    14. The Traffic in Representations: the case of Kipling's Kim


    Supriya Chaudhuri is Professor Emerita in the Department of English, Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

    Josephine McDonagh is Professor in the Department of English at the University of Chicago. 

    Brian H. Murray is Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century English Literature at King’s College London.

    Rajeswari Sunder Rajan is Global Distinguished Professor in the Department of English at New York University.