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Imperial Connections

Imperial Connections: India in the Indian Ocean Arena, 1860-1920

Thomas R. Metcalf
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Imperial Connections
    Book Description:

    An innovative remapping of empire,Imperial Connectionsoffers a broad-ranging view of the workings of the British Empire in the period when the India of the Raj stood at the center of a newly globalized system of trade, investment, and migration. Thomas R. Metcalf argues that India itself became a nexus of imperial power that made possible British conquest, control, and governance across a wide arc of territory stretching from Africa to eastern Asia. His book, offering a new perspective on how imperialism operates, emphasizes transcolonial interactions and webs of influence that advanced the interests of colonial India and Britain alike. Metcalf examines such topics as law codes and administrative forms as they were shaped by Indian precedents; the Indian Army's role in securing Malaya, Africa, and Mesopotamia for the empire; the employment of Indians, especially Sikhs, in colonial policing; and the transformation of East Africa into what was almost a province of India through the construction of the Uganda railway. He concludes with a look at the decline of this Indian Ocean system after 1920 and considers how far India's participation in it opened opportunities for Indians to be a colonizing as well as a colonized people.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93333-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Introduction: Empire Recentered
    (pp. 1-15)

    As he descended from the first ascent of Mt. Kenya in 1899 and marched toward Nairobi, then still little more than a railroad encampment, having had a number of uneasy encounters with the indigenous people, Halford Mackinder imagined himself crossing an invisible border. “Suddenly,” he wrote, “one passed out of Africa into Asia, out ofBwanacountry intoSahibcountry! There was a bazaar. . . . There I found a man paying wages. . . . I came back to civilization.”¹

    Mackinder’s experience was like that of many others during the scramble for empire from the 1870s to the...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Governing Colonial Peoples
    (pp. 16-45)

    As new colonial territories around the Indian Ocean were brought under British rule, the varied governing strategies formulated in the India of the Raj made their way across the sea. This is not surprising. By the late nineteenth century the India of the Raj, first under the East India Company and then under the Crown, had existed for a century and had developed an array of administrative practices, well known and easily accessible, that provided exemplars of how an empire might be organized and run. The legal and administrative structures of the Raj were the most predominant and visible such...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Constructing Identities
    (pp. 46-67)

    From the earliest days of their rule over India, the British set out to order and define its peoples. In part this task reflected the imperative to make sense of and come to terms with the land over which they found themselves ruling. As many works written during the last decades under the influence of Michel Foucault have made abundantly clear, knowledge was an essential ingredient of power. Without knowing, authority could not be effectively exercised. The process may be said to have begun with Warren Hastings’s construction of “Hindus” and of “Muslims” as distinct legal communities within India. During...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Projecting Power: The Indian Army Overseas
    (pp. 68-101)

    On the first of November 1875, J. W. W. Birch, recently appointed as British resident in the Malay state of Perak, was assassinated, and the state erupted in rebellion against its new British overlords. From the outset, it was assumed as a matter of course that the Indian Army would be given the task of suppressing this rebellion. As the Indian secretary telegraphed the viceroy from London on November 8, “Serious disturbances reported in Perak. Sir W. Jervois [Straits governor] states that he may require troops. In that case he has been directed to apply to you. Please immediately comply...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Recruiting Sikhs for Colonial Police and Military
    (pp. 102-135)

    During August of 1873 Captain T. C. S. Speedy, sometime lieutenant in the 10th Punjab Regiment, recruited some two hundred Sikhs and Pathans in the Punjab on behalf of the Mantri of Larut, a petty chieftain in Perak (Malaya), who planned to use them to subdue the growing power of the Chinese clans in the state. The next year, with the advance of British authority into Malaya after the Pangkor Engagement, Speedy was appointed assistant resident at Larut, and his force was taken into government service as the Perak Armed Police. Subsequently reorganized as the Perak Sikhs and then, after...

  10. CHAPTER 5 “Hard Hands and Sound Healthy Bodies”: Recruiting “Coolies” for Natal
    (pp. 136-164)

    Central to the successful working of the Victorian empire was the employment of indentured Indian laborers in colonies around the globe. Over nearly a century, from the 1830s to the 1920s, more than 1.3 million Indians left their homeland under contracts of indenture that bound them in most cases to work for a minimum of five years. The destinations to which these laborers were sent spanned the globe. Half a million went to the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and Reunion; over 400,000 labored in British Guiana and the British West Indies, with an additional 100,000 dispatched to French and...

  11. CHAPTER 6 India in East Africa
    (pp. 165-203)

    Cruising along the coast of East Africa in 1873, charged with a mission to end the slave trade in the region, a startled Sir Bartle Frere, former governor of Bombay, discovered, as he wrote to the foreign secretary in London, that “all trade passes through Indian hands; African, Arab, and European, all use an Indian agent or banian to manage the details of buying and selling, and without the intervention of an Indian either as capitalist or petty trader, very little business is done. They occupy every place where there is trade. At Zanzibar they have the command of the...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 204-222)

    During the 1920s the web of imperial connections focused on India came undone. The collapse of this subimperial system had been foreshadowed during the years just before and during the war, but the war itself had also offered opportunities for its expansion. Hence the end came with an unexpected suddenness. By the 1930s little remained, apart from the established overseas Indian communities, to indicate that there had once existed a flourishing network of ideas, institutions, and movements of people, radiating out from India across the Indian Ocean arena. This concluding chapter assesses the nature and causes of this decline and...

  13. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 223-224)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 225-248)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 249-252)
  16. Index
    (pp. 253-265)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 266-266)