A Science of Society: Languages of Economic Thought in Colonial India


ACLS Project Development Grants


History and Classics


"A Science of Society" is a study of the translation of economic ideas in 19th century colonial India. The book explores how liberal economic thinkers such as Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and Alfred Marshall were translated into Indian languages like Urdu. Drawing on a previously unexplored archive of these translations, the project argues that the translation of liberal political economy into Urdu came to be mediated by early modern Indo-Persian intellectual traditions. In particular, Indian translators made sense of liberal economic thought by relating it to Indo-Persian conceptions of ethics, politics, household management, and alchemy. The book, thus, shows that liberal economic ideas found a new life in India by intermingling with early modern languages of wealth and statecraft.