Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Book Launch Dr Joshua Ehrlich: The East India Company and the Politics of Knowledge

17 July 2023 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm BST

Free and open to all at 14 Stephenson Way, NW1 2HD

To join online email Matty: mb@royalasiaticsociety.org


The East India Company is remembered as the world’s most powerful, not to say notorious, corporation. But for many of its advocates from the 1770s to the 1850s it was also the world’s most enlightened one. Joshua Ehrlich reveals that a commitment to knowledge was integral to the Company’s ideology. He shows how the Company cited this commitment in defense of its increasingly fraught union of commercial and political power. He moves beyond studies of orientalism, colonial knowledge, and information with a new approach: the history of ideas of knowledge. He recovers a world of debate among the Company’s officials and interlocutors, Indian and European, on the political uses of knowledge. Not only were these historical actors highly articulate on the subject but their ideas continue to resonate in the present. Knowledge was a fixture in the politics of the Company – just as it seems to be becoming a fixture in today’s politics.



‘This is an important book. Compellingly written, it offers valuable insights into the connections between politics, knowledge, and corporate interests – connections that sit at the core of pressing contemporary debates.’

 Kapil Raj – École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales


‘For its fresh approach, blending the histories of knowledge and political thought; for its persuasive argument, based on deep research in Persian and European-language sources; and for its lucid and elegant style, Ehrlich’s wonderful book will be required reading for historians of the East India Company, South Asia, and the British Empire.’

Rosane Rocher – University of Pennsylvania


‘In a work as ambitious as it is meticulous, Joshua Ehrlich reveals the British conquest of India to have been the work not only of the ‘merchant’ and the ‘sovereign’ but also of the scholar – as much the product of advancing armies and revenue officials as of the translators, historians, surveyors, libraries, learned societies, colleges, gardens, and many more that made the case for how and why to rule that expanding empire. This book offers a compelling account of how debates over scholarship and education shaped the East India Company state, as well as a thought-provoking reflection on the ways in which the power to create and command knowledge has been central to ideologies of global corporate power,  from the eighteenth century to today’s ‘information economy.’’

 Philip J. Stern – Duke University


17 July 2023
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm BST
Event Category:


Royal Asiatic Society Lecture Theatre
14 Stephenson Way
London,NW1 2HDUnited Kingdom
+ Google Map
View Venue Website