Print Culture of Empire
Anirudh Deshpande
REPORTING THE RAJ: THE BRITISH PRESS AND INDIA C. 1880-1922 by Chandrika Kaul Manchester University Press, Manchester and New York, 2004, 302 pp., £49.99
May 2004, volume 28, No 5

The British established their Indian Raj by various means including the sword but undoubtedly they secured it with modern means of communication. Ruling India from distant London was a difficult and complex affair in which the press came to play a critical role specially from the mid-nineteenth century. How serious was the role of the press in the management of Empire can be gauged by the claim that the press often creates its own reality. But this is mostly a subjective reality. Hence it can be argued that substantial colonial policy emanated from the perceptions of the Raj conveyed and cemented by the press both in England and India. How motivated, manipulated, ideological and, above all, hegemonic could many of these perceptions be is explored in depth by Reporting the Raj. This admirable volume scrutinizes a medium of information considered a legitimate historical source by all historians of British imperialism and colonial India. What do we make of the “print culture of empire in Britain” as historians is the central question Kaul addresses in this volume. However, while tackling this question the author consciously keeps aloof from viewing the British press primarily as a literary means of creating an image of the East for British and western readers in general.

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