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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume II: The Eighteenth Century$
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P. J. Marshall and Alaine Low

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205630

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205630.001.0001

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Knowledge and Empire

Knowledge and Empire

(p.231) 11 Knowledge and Empire
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume II: The Eighteenth Century

Richard Drayton

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a discussion on knowledge and the British Empire. The alliance between philosophy and Empire was not merely a meeting of utility and opportunity. By the late 17th century, the pursuit of knowledge, commerce and colonies, religious piety, and a nascent patriotism were tightly bound together. The idea that knowledge might be the basis of more efficient statecraft found corresponding encouragement. The more intimate involvement of knowledge and British power after 1750 created important opportunities for scientific professionals. The chapter also describes how Imperial expansion significantly shaped Britain’s domestic intellectual life. The direct impact of expansion is clear on some branches of knowledge. It remains possible to construct Britain’s intellectual relations with its 18th-century Empire as the story of ‘expansion’.

Keywords:   British Empire, knowledge, British power, Imperial expansion, Britain, 18th-century

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