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Reconstructing the imperial military after the rebellion

By Gavin Rand

Abstract

Tracing the impacts of 1857 on the organisation of the Indian Army in the late nineteenth century, this paper argues that the rebellion – and colonial readings of and reactions to the uprising – played an important, and largely unrecognised, role in shaping military administration in the 1880s and 1890s. The events of 1857 transposed questions of military organisation into issues of pan-imperial significance whilst, at the same time, emphasising the significance of local, administrative expertise and centring ethnography as a key modality of colonial knowledge. This formatting of imperial military strategy, the paper argues, undergirded not only the reconstruction of the Indian Army after the rebellion but also the major reorganisations of the 1880s and 1890s, often depicted as a decisive break with the post-1857 settlement. The elaboration and codification of racial identities in the final decades of the century, reflected in the emergence of the martial race discourse, can best be understood in the context of the shifts precipitated by the rebellion. Locating the impacts of the uprising in this way thus also helps to throw light upon the wider shifts which transformed colonial rule in the latter half of the nineteenth century

Topics: D1
Publisher: SAGE Publications India Pvt. Ltd.
Year: 2013
OAI identifier: oai:gala.gre.ac.uk:4059
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