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The Work of Empire in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

The Work of Empire in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Chapter:
(p.198) Chapter Six The Work of Empire in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Source:
Indian Ink
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226620428.003.0006

This chapter investigates printing and empire in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Bengal. To adapt Walter Benjamin, it sets out the work of empire in the age of mechanical reproduction in order to render problematic what has in an older historiography been seen as the straightforward diffusion from Europe of a portable and useful technology that promised the benefits of the uniform replication of large numbers of copies. Printing was different in India. It was organized in particular ways, and the process and its products had specific meanings in that context. Understanding this also involves questioning the assumption that there was a simple European will to power built into the printing process and its products. This chapter thus examines the details of the relationship between printing and empire.

Keywords:   printing, Bengal, Walter Benjamin, empire, mechanical reproduction, technology, India

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