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FOR ALL WITH AN INTEREST IN THE HISTORY 
OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY AND THE BRITISH RAJ

ONLINE LECTURES

Online lectures are currently in recess and will recommence in November. They are broadcast via Zoom and are available UK-wide and to an international audience. For your interest, information about the 2023–24 series is given below.

 

HOW TO BOOK

Tickets £5 per lecture 

Tickets may be booked online by selecting ‘BOOK NOW’, by post or by bank transfer. 

How to book

LECTURE PROGRAMME 202324 (PAST)

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TUESDAY 24 OCTOBER 2023 18.30-20.00 BST (ZOOM)

Adventurers: The Improbable Rise of the East India Company

David Howarth

This lecture outlines the unlikely beginnings of the East India Company: from Tudor origins and rivalry with the superior Dutch to laying the groundwork for future British expansion. Through a host of stories and fascinating details, David Howarth brings to life the Company’s way of doing business—from the leaky ships and petty seafarers of its embattled early days to later sweeping commercial success. Drawing on an abundance of sources, he shows how competition from European powers was vital to success—and considers whether the Company was truly ‘English’ at all, or rather part of a Europe-wide movement.

David Howarth is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Adventurers: The Improbable Rise of the East India Company 1550-1650 (2023), Lord Arundel and His Circle, Images of Rule and The Invention of Spain. 

This link will take you to the booking page for the last lecture, 'The 1945 Burma Campaign'. The 'All six lectures' ticket is available there.

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TUESDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2023 18.30-20.00 GMT (ZOOM)

The East India Company in Persia

Peter Good

 

Despite the importance of Persian trade, little has been written on the East India Company’s operations in Persia. This lecture will consider the day-to-day experience of the Company’s merchants, the commercial side of the Company’s operations and how it provided a ‘navy for hire’ for the Safavids and their successors. Far from being an English, British or even European venture, the Company was staffed by a range of nationalities. The East India Company in Persia was not only an entity in its own right but intertwined with regional political life and the commerce of the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean—a relationship built on mutuality not coercion.

Peter Good is Lecturer in Early Modern Europe and the Islamic World at the University of Kent. He is the author of The East India Company in Persia: Trade and Cultural Exchange in the 18th Century.

This link will take you to the booking page for the last lecture, 'The 1945 Burma Campaign'. The 'All six lectures' ticket is available there.

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TUESDAY 28 NOVEMBER 2023 18.30-20.00 GMT (ZOOM)

Courting India: England, Mughal India and the Origins of Empire

Nandini Das

 

When Thomas Roe arrived in 1616 as James I's first ambassador to the Mughal Empire, the English barely had a toehold in India. Roe was representing a kingdom beset by financial woes, while the Mughal court was wealthy and cultured, its dominion one of the greatest empires of the world. In this lecture Nandini Das explores the art, literature, sights and sounds of Jacobean London and Imperial India. The story of Roe's four years in India is one of palace intrigue and scandal, lotteries and wagers that unfolds as global trade begins to stretch from Russia to Virginia, from West Africa to the Spice Islands. Nandini Das reveals Thomas Roe’s time in the Mughal Empire to be a turning point in history and challenges our understanding of Britain and its early empire. 

 

Nandini Das is Professor of Early Modern Literature and Culture at the University of Oxford and a Tutorial Fellow in English at Exeter College. She is the author of Courting India: England, Mughal India and the Origins of Empire.

This link will take you to the booking page for the last lecture, 'The 1945 Burma Campaign'. The 'All six lectures' ticket is available there.

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TUESDAY 23 JANUARY 2024 18.30-20.00 GMT (ZOOM)

Unmaking the East India Company: British Art and Political Reform in Colonial India

Tom Young

 

This lecture explores how art shaped the nationalisation of the East India Company between 1813 and 1858. Challenging the idea that parliament drove political reform, Tom Young argues that the Company’s political legitimacy was destabilised by new artistic forms and practices, introducing political and ethical ideas that eroded the aristocratic corporate cultures of colonial India. He highlights the role of overlooked media, artistic styles and print formats—lithography, the periodical, the scrapbook, the literary annual and amateur sketching—in crafting those distinctions of power and identity that defined ‘Britishness’ across the world, contributing to a reassessment of British art as a global, corporate and intrinsically imperial phenomenon.

 

TomYoung is Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Art Histories at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. He is the author of Unmaking the East India Company: British Art and Political Reform in Colonial India, c. 1813–1858.

This link will take you to the booking page for the last lecture, 'The 1945 Burma Campaign'. The 'All six lectures' ticket is available there.

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TUESDAY 19 MARCH 2024 18.30-20.00 GMT (ZOOM)

Conquering the Maharajahs

Harrison Akins

 

This lecture examines the overlooked history of princely India through the tumultuous end of British Empire in South Asia and the early years of Indian and Pakistani independence. The over 560 princely states dotting India's political landscape comprised 40 per cent of its territory and contained nearly one hundred million people. Far from playing second fiddle, the princely states played an integral role in the transfer of power in 1947. Under the Raj they were politically autonomous and their rulers had to be cajoled and some cases forced to accede to India or Pakistan. The princes’ commitment to preserving their sovereignty not only threatened the territorial integrity of both India and Pakistan but brought them to the brink of war on multiple occasions.

 

Harrison Akins is a political scientist and writer based in Washington, DC. For over a decade, he has researched, written and advised on South Asian politics, conflict, governance and development from several positions within both academia and the US government. He is the author of Conquering the Maharajahs: India’s Princely States and the End of Empire 1930-50.

This link will take you to the booking page for the last lecture, 'The 1945 Burma Campaign'. The 'All six lectures' ticket is available there.

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TUESDAY 16 APRIL 2024 18.30-20.00 BST (ZOOM)

The 1945 Burma Campaign and the Transformation of the Indian Army

Raymond A. Callahan and Daniel Marston

 

In 1945, the Indian British XIV Army inflicted on the Imperial Japanese Army in Burma the worst defeat in its history. That campaign, the most brilliant and original operational manoeuvre conducted by any British general in the twentieth century, is presented in this lecture by the two foremost historians in the field. After the retreat from Burma in 1942, Lieutenant General Sir William Slim, commander of the British XIV Army, played a crucial role in the remarkable military renaissance that transformed the Indian Army. Then, with that reborn army, Slim won two defensive battles in 1944 and in the 1945 campaign shredded his Japanese opponents.

 

Behind this dramatic story was another: the war marked the effective end of the Raj. As Slim’s great victory signposted the change from the army Kipling knew, the praetorian guard of the Raj evaporated. ‘Every Indian officer worth his salt is a nationalist’, the Indian Army’s commander-in-chief Claude Auchinleck said as the XIV Army took Rangoon.

 

Raymond A. Callahan is Professor Emeritus of History, University of Delaware, and author of Triumph at Imphal-Kohima: How the Indian Army Finally Stopped the Japanese Juggernaut. 

 

Daniel Marston is Professor and Director of the Secretary of Defense Strategic Thinkers Program, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and author of The Indian Army and the End of the Raj.

Professor Callahan and Professor Marston are authors of The 1945 Burma Campaign and the Transformation of the British Indian Army, winner of the Templer Medal Book Prize.

This link will take you to the booking page for the last lecture, 'The 1945 Burma Campaign'. The 'All six lectures' ticket is available there.

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