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Abstract

In his article "Robert Clive and Imperial Modernity" Nigel Joseph analyzes the work of Robert Clive by postulating the questions of why Clive would be emblematic of the bleak modernity of Tocqueville, Weber, and Foucault? Rapacious yet docile, personally ambitious yet capable of curbing ambition in others, Clive seems to be an anomalous figure. Joseph posits that Clive's career is a metaphor for both the trajectory of the imperial state and for the imperial subject. In order to retain his Indian-derived wealth, Clive is forced into a series of paradoxical postures: beginning as the archetypal private marauder, he transforms himself into the scourge of corrupt English officialdom. The actions of a Clive, restless, energetic, ambitious, seeking to be a propertied self in the home country, force a new synthesis. After Clive, and even more urgently after Warren Hastings, the nation is forced to take up the moral burden of empire. Thus, Joseph suggests that Clive represents the classic scenario of modernity: the individual subjectivity whose desire for things, for material wealth is assiduously encouraged, while rendered obedient towards a state that is represented as beyond material desire.

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