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Insurgent Empire


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Priyamvada Gopal is University Reader in Anglophone and Related Literatures in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge and Fellow, Churchill College. She is the author of Literary Radicalism in India: Gender, Nation and the Transition to Independence (2005) and The Indian English Novel: Nation, History and Narration (2009).


"It is widely recognised and understood today that colonial dictatorship was resisted from the moment of its imposition. Much less widely known, however, is the record of active dissension from the imperial project within the metropole itself. It is with the multifarious forms assumed by this 'internal' tradition of dissent that Priyamvada Gopal concerns herself in this extraordinarily valuable and brilliantly readable book. Insurgent Empire covers a vast geographical range (sub-Saharan and north Africa, Afghanistan and India, the Caribbean and the Americas) and tracks historically from the 1857 uprising in North India through to the 'Mau Mau' insurgency in Kenya a century later. The book contributes something altogether new and exciting to the existing critical literature in its suggestion that the 'internal' opposition to imperial policies and polities was from the outset a dialogical exercise, premised on an active learning from the anti-colonial movements. Gopal shows that the ideas of freedom, justice and common humanity, in the name of which the metropolitan dissenters against imperialism raised thei standard, had themselves taken shape in the struggle against imperialism." - Professor Neil Lazarus, University of Warwick "Priyamvada Gopal has calmly and authoritatively produced this impressive study of resistance against Empire, in the face of the kind of constant hostility that only serves to reminds us why her work is so urgent in the first place. We all owe her a debt." - Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish) "An audacious, expansive and rigorously researched counter-history of empire. Rather than treat colonized humanity as victims or reactionaries, Gopal's narrative discloses a cast of resisters that shaped the idea of freedom across Britain and its possessions." - Robbie Shilliam, Johns Hopkins "Priyamvada Gopal is an astonishing writer and thinker, one who is fearless in how she uses history to explain where we are now. Her work is essential to showing how empire and colonialism pervades every nook and cranny of the British establishment today and why we should all continue to speak truth to power, like she does every damn day." - Nikesh Shukla, editor of The Good Immigrant "Scintillating" - Red Pepper "A tour de force likely to shape the debate on empire for years to come." - Peace News "An important and original contribution...Insurgent Empire deserves to be widely read." - Christopher Hale, History Today "Punchy" - Prospect "Impressive...Against attempts to portray empire as something distant and past, or as something benevolent and enlightened, approaches such as this one are essential." - Colonial Hangover Magazine "Urgent" - The Correspondent "Impressive in its scope and rigour...Insurgent Empire is an important challenge to those that would rather uncritically accept the myth of a benevolent imperial power than work to celebrate radicalism and resistance as part of a national history." - Hong Kong Review of Books "[Gopal] mounts a powerful challenge to the notion that anticolonial resistance was born of an education in British notions of liberty." - Adom Getachew, London Review of Books "Gopal's meticulously researched study is a major contribution to the historiography of the British Empire, as notable for its research as it is for its lucid, forceful prose." - Chandak Sengoopta, Journal of British Studies "Insurgent Empire illuminates the role that peoples of the global south have played in the development of ideas of freedom - including in the west itself - within the context of anti-colonial struggles. " - David Wearing, New Humanist "Incisive ... Insurgent Empire demonstrates how often critics have hacked at the pedestals of imperial pieties, and how consistently voices outside Britain have inspired them. " - Maya Jasanoff, New Yorker

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