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1 - The British Raj’s Mimic Men

Historicizing Genteel Masculinities across Empires

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 November 2020

Humberto Garcia
Affiliation:
University of California, Merced
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Summary

The first chapter examines the British East India Company’s transformation into Bengal’s territorial sovereign in 1764 as an embodied history. The British men who worked for this trading monopoly adopted Persian titles that recall the polite historical protocols of Perso-Turkic-Mongol empires since the fifteenth century. These titles personified a corporate English body as an individual nobleman who was the imperial family’s only and most powerful patriarch – the ultimate mimic men. A shared ethical and linguistic orientation inspired Asian travelers and their British hosts to imagine an ethnic kinship, as mediated by the Indo-Persian political treatises that Company lexicographers had translated into conduct books for genteel Englishmen aspiring to a career in India. This trans-imperial masculinity was what empowered Asian travelers to climb social rank and challenge the Company’s claim to Mughal sovereignty as they befriended metropolitans in public showplaces – theaters, salons, and drawing rooms. The chapter proposes that orientalism and occidentalism are inadequate paradigms for understanding these travelers’ multimedia engagements in Britain.

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Chapter
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England Re-Oriented
How Central and South Asian Travelers Imagined the West, 1750–1857
, pp. 14 - 37
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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