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"An important contribution to our understanding of anglophone literary culture in South Asia and the Indian Ocean, Before the Raj decenters the customary metropole/colony dyad in favor of what Mulholland calls the translocal. Theoretically informed and drawing from an impressive range of historical materials, this book is crucial to our understanding of the complex ways literary cultures and empire intertwine and contest each other. An erudite and compelling investigation."

"Mulholland's book will become a touchstone text in the field of imperial cultural history, both for its engagement with ongoing discussions of imitation and the local as well as its assured treatment of writings and histories spanning colonial India and Southeast Asia."

"Mulholland's innovative and challenging study traces the emergence of an Anglophone colonial public sphere in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century India, Ceylon, Penang, Sumatra, and Java. Before the Raj is a supple and convincing account of the 'translocal' aesthetics and print culture that flourished in these interconnected worlds. Highly recommended."

"This imaginative and wide-ranging book does something remarkable: it compels us to take seriously—maybe even appreciate—a prolific literary corpus often simply dismissed as orientalist, amateurish, or just plain bad. These supposedly minor works, James Mulholland reveals, played a major role in producing the public culture of colonial life, rooted in the diverse local and regional contexts that were so critical to making the British Empire in Asia."

"By excavating [archives] and reading it from new theoretical positions (like translocal regionalism and middle reading), Mulholland is giving us a shing example in how to engage in that kind of scholarship in Before for Raj."