The Royal Asiatic Reader features highlights from mid-nineteenth century issues of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal that have been digitized by Google books, with a particular emphasis on the absurd, obscene, mystifying, offensive and poetic. In their esoteric and insufferable style, these selections seek to provide an engaging introduction to the study of knowledge and power in the context of European imperialism for students of South Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and of course Europe itself. In almost every selection evidence can be found of the economic and military motives that drove the production of this scholarship, as well as the political circumstances that enabled it to be done. At the same time, the clear erudition that went into much of this work suggests that those of us  in academia today should remain constantly mindful of the fact that scholars much smarter and more hard-working than ourselves have fallen prey to gross ideological biases. We should thus approach our tasks with humility and strive to make sure we don't do the same. 

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