In Empires of the Senses: Bodily Encounters in Imperial India and the Philippines, Andrew J. Rotter provides a sensory history of the British Empire in India (1857–1947) and American empire in the Philippines (1898–1946) that speaks to historians of South and Southeast Asia, colonialism and postcolonialism, and the senses. There appears to be no shortage of evidence for Rotter's main theoretical arguments—that the colonial encounter was a sensory one and the concept of civilization was the dominant idea shaping empire building. By foregrounding how “[e]mpire was an embodied experience for both its agents and subjects,” Rotter offers a fresh addition to imperial histories like those of Stanley Karnow, Jon E. Wilson, Paul Kramer, and Ann Stoler and argues that the sensory experience of others was central to empire building (p. 2).1 Rotter adopts a sensual historical framework and contributes to a body of scholarship that includes works by...

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