This issue has been concerned with two problems. First, all the contributors have considered how ideas travelled to, from and within nineteenth- and twentieth-century India. It examines how these ideas were received and reinterpreted by India's English-influenced intelligentsia in the light of its own intellectual histories. Second, the volume is intended as a contribution to an emerging global and transnational history of ideas that attempts to set the sophisticated traditions of European, Atlantic, Islamic and Asian intellectual history in a world context.
Intellectual historians have long been concerned with the question of how ideas formulated in one society are appropriated, domesticated and even rejected in others. Histories of the Muslim world, notably Albert Hourani's Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, showed how representative government, which was a relatively new concept over much of nineteenth-century Europe itself, was received and adjusted to existing ideologies in Egypt and the Ottoman Empire. Some authorities found an analogy to popular representation in the ancient Islamic concept of shura or consultation. Others claimed that modern institutions and knowledge represented a resurfacing of divine revelation and reason (ilm) that had been vouchsafed to humanity by the tradition of Prophecy (cf. Devji, above, for South Asia).
Another classic illustration of how ideas travel is to be found in J. G. A. Pocock's The Machiavellian Moment. In this case, ideas of civic republicanism, deriving from Aristotle and formalized by Machiavelli and the Venetians, were domesticated in England and later the American colonies, apparently far from their intellectual home.
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