A History of British India

Rated 1 out of 5 by from Another revisionist history I am sick and tired of revisionist histories where some liberal elitist tries to spin historical events to make us ashamed of the past rather than teaching what occurred objectively and without viewing it through a distorted agenda.
Date published: 2020-09-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Title describes subect matter. I have purchased several great courses (60+). About 2/3rds of these are history courses. In most cases I would say that the professor presents the material in a pretty straight forward, unbiased manner. Can't say that that is the feeling I get with this course. In, fact, I had to take a break after lecture 9 (of 24) to do some outside reading. At least 3 of the great courses I have taken have covered this period of Indian/British history (though not as their exclusive subject matter). The other courses do not paint nearly as bleak a picture of British India. Professor Bellenoit does not have a positive thing to say about British India. In fact he seems to go to some lengths to paint a negative picture. I don't think you can take history out of context, or, apply current sensibilities to past eras. I think that's the problem I'm having with this course. With that said I did do give the course, so far, an average rating. Professor Bellenoit does present the material in an understandable manner and does express his point of view well. I do plan to finish the course after a break.
Date published: 2020-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A History of British India I am now half way through the course, and I am deeply impressed by it. Prof. Hayden J, Bellenoit 's scholarly review of the history and culture of India before the British inroads in it is succinct, but very informative. However, it is the step by step analysis of the evolution of the British Raj which started a modest commercial venture and morphed into an truly odious imperialistic venture which makes this course great. Prof Bellenoit is an engaging speaker and an excellent presenter. It was said many times that there is no truly objective history. Every historian interprets the past through the prism of the time she/he lives in, and her/his personal inclinations. Prof Bellenoit's presentation is no exception to it. His is certainly an engaged presentation, and I see it as its forte. His description of the ruthless British colonialism celebrated at home as one of the greatest achievements of civilization is solidly founded on countless hard data. I do not have slightest reservation to fully recommend this course.
Date published: 2020-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful course I am especially interested in the history of India during the British Raj and this course was simply amazing. Delivered by a very good teacher and scholar, the material was accurate and overall, excellent. In summary, I really enjoyed every minute and would highly recommend it to anyone who would like to learn about this period - a period that is not only interesting for anyone interested in history, but also one that has a huge impact on contemporary India and South Asia, in general.
Date published: 2020-05-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Graduate assistant lecture This lecturer sounds like a junior academic sucking up to thesis adviser, with all the chrono-centric obsessions on race and class that are hallmarks of American faculty. The result here is a monotonous harping on the racism of the British, and sweeping subjective historical generalizations. This gets very irritating when combined with the lecturer's condescending Socratic question-and-answer. "Now do parents let children ask questions? Of course not, and neither did the British." But the subject is very interesting, a departure from Western focused history. If the lecturer could find some humility, and maybe real questioning of his micro-cultural masters, he could improve. Maybe a refresher with R.G. Collingwood's Idea of History.
Date published: 2020-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent overview This course does justice to the horrors of British imperialism that ended in partition. When I bought this course, I thought it would probably be just another narrative about “enlightened despotism”, written from a largely Western perspective. I am glad that it did not turn out that way and it was worth watching all the lectures. It is a very balanced and unbiased account of the Raj, that many Indians like me can also relate to. More visuals would have made this course even better. I hope Professor Bellenoit makes many more courses about India in the near future. Some suggestions are: 1. Contemporary India; 2. The Bengal Famine (1943); 3. The History of the Bengal region (West Bengal & Bangladesh); 4. Inequality in Modern India; etc. This is really a “great course” and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in India. Thank you, “The Great Courses” and thank you Professor Bellenoit.
Date published: 2020-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great course,very exciting Very informative,brutally honest presentation of British India. Vivid descriptions of events that led to inevitable exit of British from India is worth noting. Thank you for a great lecture series.
Date published: 2020-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful and well-organized This is a genuinely college-level course that demands some understanding of economics and sociology. Mr. Bellenoit packs a lot of information in each lesson, but his organization is so impeccable that the listener is never lost. While I do not think that the professor is biased, some of this material is grim. I suggest you take Mr Allitt's excellent courses if you want to hear the more adventurous, fun side of British colonialism.
Date published: 2020-02-21
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A History of British India
Course Trailer
Introduction to India
1: Introduction to India

Delve into core aspects of Indian culture that provide a rich background for the story of British rule. Grasp the key precepts of Hinduism, and the notions of dharma, karma, and samsara. Study the caste system, the features of Indian families and marriages, and explore how society and religion shape politics in India.

33 min
The Mughal Empire in 18th-Century India
2: The Mughal Empire in 18th-Century India

Examine the monumental empire of the Mughals, the Islamic rulers of India. Investigate how the Mughals governed through military skill, administrative brilliance, and religious tolerance. Look at the state of Indian society in the 18th century, and how changes in Mughal politics and economics laid the foundation for the British conquest of India.

33 min
Indian and British Economic Interests
3: Indian and British Economic Interests

Here, explore further how the Indian subcontinent drifted toward colonialism. Observe how the "regionalization" of the Mughal Empire compromised the emperors' ability to govern. Take account of India's prominence within the broader global economy, and chart the rise of powerful banking families who played a critical role in the emergence of British rule.

32 min
British Expansion in India (1757-1820)
4: British Expansion in India (1757-1820)

Witness how the English East India Company, a trading organization, expanded its early footing in Bengal. Study the Company's extraordinary transformation, through military conquests, from a merchant venture into a political entity. Finally, follow the Company's expansion into other regions, employing the Mughal revenue system to tax India's agrarian countryside.

29 min
Knowing the Country: British Orientalism
5: Knowing the Country: British Orientalism

Learn how British scholars and administrators pursued knowledge of Indian culture, and how the early British colonials adapted to living within Indian society. Grasp the ways in which British romanticizing of India and misunderstanding of traditional customs had major consequences for colonial policy and the well-being of the Indian populace.

31 min
Race, Gender, and Culture (1750-1850)
6: Race, Gender, and Culture (1750-1850)

The opening up of India gave rise to a discourse on race that became central to the colonial relationship. Study British racial paradigms in Company-ruled India, which emphasized differences between Indians and the British to "justify" colonial rule. Also explore the British notion of masculinity and how it bolstered their self-perception as colonial masters.

31 min
The Age of Reform (1830-1850)
7: The Age of Reform (1830-1850)

Contemporary currents of thought in England affected the ways in which India was governed. Learn how utilitarianism and Christian evangelicalism undergirded attempts by the British to educate and "reform" India. Track the major changes in the economic relationship between Britain and India that contributed to the Great Uprising of 1857....

30 min
The Great Uprising (1857-1858)
8: The Great Uprising (1857-1858)

Study the accumulation of religious, economic, and political grievances against the East India Company that set the stage for the Great Uprising of 1857. Then witness the outbreak and bloody unfolding of the Uprising itself. Observe how the "mutiny" changed British attitudes toward India, and the way Britain governed it under the Raj....

28 min
Economics and Society under the Raj
9: Economics and Society under the Raj

Examine the nature of the colonial economy, and trace economic decisions by the British that constrained the livelihoods of artisans and peasants. Assess the Raj's fiscal policy, which privileged British interests over public works. Observe how these policies affected the lives of millions who toiled to produce the wealth of the Raj....

30 min
Caste and Tribal Identity under Colonialism
10: Caste and Tribal Identity under Colonialism

As a social institution, caste changed markedly under British colonial rule. First, examine how the British encountered caste and tried to understand it. Then see how caste became significantly linked with the colonial tax revenue system. Take account of the ways in which caste distinctions became more prominent, codified, and pervasive under colonialism....

29 min
The Nationalization of Hinduism (1870-1900)
11: The Nationalization of Hinduism (1870-1900)

Discover how the broader traditions of Hinduism were affected by the colonial experience. Examine the theological assault on Hinduism by European Christian missionaries, and the responses of high-caste Hindus. Look at important Hindu reform movements, which sought to modernize Hinduism, and grasp how key currents of reformist thinking linked Hinduism with Indian nationhood....

32 min
Indian Muslim Identity and Colonial Rule
12: Indian Muslim Identity and Colonial Rule

Indian Islam underwent profound shifts under colonial rule. Investigate how the British codifying of Islamic law changed Indian Muslims' communal identity. See how the advent of English language and education, and the Indian census, distanced Muslims from Hindus. Lastly, assess how the Deobandi reform movement reinvented Indian Islam to ensure its survival....

31 min
The Late-19th-Century British Raj
13: The Late-19th-Century British Raj

Study British racial attitudes toward Indians in the late 19th century and how these conceptions were manifested in the way India was governed. Learn about the officials who administrated the Raj, the Indian Civil Service, and the modernization of India. Grasp how all of these elements reflect the mindset of the British Raj....

30 min
Princely States and Royalist Relationships
14: Princely States and Royalist Relationships

India's princely states played a crucial role in maintaining British power. Examine the history of the princely kingdoms, and why they remained separate from British-controlled territory. Follow how the British cultivated ties of loyalty with Indian princes and exerted "indirect rule." Explore the contradiction of a modernizing British Raj that supported feudal princes....

30 min
Indian Nationalism and the Freedom Struggle
15: Indian Nationalism and the Freedom Struggle

Analyze how a new generation of English-educated Indians spearheaded Indian nationalism. Trace the emergence of the Indian National Congress, which initially represented moderate nationalists, and observe how repressive British policies sowed anticolonial sentiment. Witness the strengthening of nationalist fervor, as it erupted into political extremism and violence in the early 20th century....

32 min
The Great War and Its Impact on India
16: The Great War and Its Impact on India

Examine the severe effects of the First World War on India's economy. Learn how both moderate and radical nationalists responded to the war to press for concessions and independence. Explore strains in the colonial relationship exposed by the war that made India ripe for the emergence of Mohandas Gandhi....

30 min
Gandhi's Moral-Political Philosophy
17: Gandhi's Moral-Political Philosophy

Investigate Gandhi's early life and how he became a nationalist leader. Study the elements of his political philosophy, the political tools of ahimsa (no harm) and satyagraha (force of truth), and the forces of modernity and British rule that Gandhi critiqued. Finally, examine the 1919 event that thrust him onto the national stage....

30 min
The Noncooperation Movement
18: The Noncooperation Movement

Observe how Gandhi reorganized the Indian National Congress into a mass political machine, as witnessed in the Noncooperation Movement, where Indians boycotted the British on a national scale. Note how these actions and others exposed moral faults in the Raj, and track the Raj's counterstrategies that attempted to marginalize those nationalists seeking independence....

32 min
Indian Muslim Politics between the Wars
19: Indian Muslim Politics between the Wars

Indian Muslim identity began to change in important ways in the 20th century. Study the impact on Indian Muslims of the First World War, and the resulting Muslim Khalifat Movement, which opposed Britain's war aims against the Ottoman Caliphate. See how Hindu/Muslim religious-political rivalries gave birth to the idea of Pakistan....

30 min
The Civil Disobedience Campaign
20: The Civil Disobedience Campaign

Now examine the "second round" of Indian nationalist action against the British Raj. Witness the effects on India of the global economic depression after 1929, which triggered the Civil Disobedience Campaign, a massive boycotting of British goods, services, and institutions. Assess the Raj's countertactic of extending constitutional concessions to stem nationalist agitation....

33 min
Britain and Its Empire in the 1940s
21: Britain and Its Empire in the 1940s

Witness how Britain's wartime mobilization alienated the Indian National Congress and took a horrific toll on the Indian poor. Study the resulting Quit India Movement, the largest uprising against the British since 1857, and the events of the war's aftermath that set the stage for the end of 200 years of colonial rule....

31 min
The Raj on Its Knees (1945-1947)
22: The Raj on Its Knees (1945-1947)

Investigate the increasing levels of dissent, mutiny, and agrarian suffering and unrest that followed World War II. Chart the astonishing rise of the Muslim League after 1940, its presence in the negotiations for independence, and the League's actions in key provinces that sparked terrible communal violence in the Raj's final days....

30 min
A Split India: Negotiating Independence
23: A Split India: Negotiating Independence

Examine the factors in Britain's decision to "quit" India. Take account of the final negotiations between the National Congress, the Muslim League, and the British, noting the contrasting visions of an independent India held by the Congress and the League. Grasp how Hindu-Muslim violence affected the ultimate partition of India and Pakistan....

31 min
Reflections on Postcolonial India
24: Reflections on Postcolonial India

Learn about the harrowing events following Partition, which saw widespread killings and the largest displacement of human populations in history. Assess what the events of 1947 meant for the Indian National Congress, Pakistanis, and the British. Finally, reflect on the lasting legacy of the British Raj and its rule of India....

31 min
Hayden J. Bellenoit

The human experience is inevitably complex and defies any simple question, category, solution, theory, or understanding.


Oxford University


U.S. Naval Academy

About Hayden J. Bellenoit

Hayden J. Bellenoit is an Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy. After graduating summa cum laude in History and Economics from Wheaton College, he attended Oxford University, where he completed his master of studies in Historical Research and his doctor of philosophy in Modern History, focusing on late colonial India. While studying at Oxford, Dr. Bellenoit spent a year in India conducting research in Delhi, Lucknow, and Allahabad. At the Naval Academy, Dr. Bellenoit offered the academy's first courses on the history of India from 1700 to the present, the history of Islam and the origins of jihad in South Asia, the history of Pakistan, the premodern history of Asia, and the history of the Mughal Empire. Dr. Bellenoit has researched and published extensively on modern Indian religious, social, and cultural history. His first book was Missionary Education and Empire in Late Colonial India, 1860-1920. He also has had peer-reviewed articles published in journals and edited volumes, including "Education, Missionaries and the Indian Nation, c. 1880-1920" and "Missionary Education, Religion and Knowledge in India, c. 1880-1915." Dr. Bellenoit's second book is The Formation of the Colonial State in India: Scribes, Paper and Taxes, 1760-1860. He is also a life member of Cambridge University's Clare Hall.

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