In Service to India: The ethics of Rule and conduct of British Administrators and Army Officers in late nineteenth and early twentieth century India

Barn, Jatinder S.. 2003. In Service to India: The ethics of Rule and conduct of British Administrators and Army Officers in late nineteenth and early twentieth century India. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

In this study I explore the military, administrative and governmental practices of British men as rulers in India during the Victorian and early Edwardian period. The historical events that are the focus of this study are the massacres and disturbances in Punjab, Amritsar 1919. I concentrate on three ruling characters involved in these events; an administrator, a military officer, and an Indian Secretary of State. The central question I ask is: how are these white men who claim to be fitted to rule over others made? I explore the changing relationships between these men and the history of colonialism in India. More specifically, I examine the intersections between movements for independence and shifts in styles of colonial domination amongst these men in India at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

In analyzing the events of 1919 I bring together discourses usually separated in discussions of colonial power. First, by following Foucault's leads on the problem of government and his reformulation of it as 'governmentality', I pursue the question of colonial subjectivity and its constitution. I remove the colonial authorities in these instances from discourses of the singular and sinister. I find on the contrary that what is at stake are specific professions and traditions of imperial duty that have both internal and external manifestations. Internal in the sense that the men I investigate are concerned to conduct themselves in a manner that befits their calling as rulers, and their conduct is in their view beyond reproach in this regard. External in the sense that their deportment is directed to carrying out their imperial duties in the service of others. I also implicate Indian rule in the extra state techniques of government that preoccupy Foucault's histories of governmentality. Second I combine this approach with an attention to the lives and biographies of certain exemplary individuals. Here I use an approach close to Stefan Collini's characterological method, in which O'Dwyer, Dyer and Montagu exemplify a certain character formation crucial to the exercise of colonial rule. Each of the men I investigate is concerned in their own ways, to support the longevity of empire. In this sense, both through their larger work, in particular their writing and public conversations, and their conduct, they give voice to their specific traditions of empire.
I therefore propose a novel reading of Amritsar that sees those events as a window for exploring shifts in styles of colonial rule and domination in India during those times.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00028612

Keywords:

colonial subjectivity, Foucault, governmentality, colonial rule

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology

Date:

April 2003

Item ID:

28612

Date Deposited:

01 Jun 2020 15:51

Last Modified:

01 Jun 2020 16:00

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/28612

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