This article traces the fortunes of one of India’s great libraries, which Tipu Sultan of Mysore amassed largely through plunder and which the British East India Company plundered in turn. It shows how Tipu used the library to legitimise his authority and how rival factions of the Company, after defeating him in 1799, did the same. The article links the figuration of loot in the subcontinent, as studied by historians of material culture, to the conceptualisation of British India, as studied by historians of political thought. More broadly, it attests the symbolic power that plunder had—perhaps still has—to confer prestige.
Ehrlich, J. (2020). Plunder and Prestige: Tipu Sultan’s Library and the Making of British India. South Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies, 43(3), 478–492. https://doi.org/10.1080/00856401.2020.1739863