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War and Society in Colonial India 1807-1945

War and Society in Colonial India 1807-1945
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Item Code: IDI572
Author: Kaushik Roy
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 0195681495
Pages: 375
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.6"X 5.5
From the Jacket

The role of armies and warfare in shaping colonialism in South Asia has not received much attention in academic history-writing. The sepoy army constituted the largest government employer for the colonized. Military service under the colonial regime also moulded the structure and ethos of the subject populace. Part of the prestigious themes in Indian History series, this volume analyses the complex dialectics; between warfare, the British-Indian war machine, and colonial society.

The reader considers the social and cultural dimensions of colonialism and also assesses the nature of the colonial state. Spatially and temporally, it covers a wide canvas. The essays are arranged chronologically within broad thematic heads. The first segment deals with coercion, discipline, and dissent in the sepoy armies while reopening the significant debate on whether sepoys were mercenaries or professional army men. The next part discuses the military cultures, symbols, and martial constructs introduced by the British. The concluding section investigates the torturous transition of the colonial army and state from waging limited warfare to large-scale industrial warfare.

Providing a wide historiographical landscape, Roy throws new light on key aspects of colonial warfare. He also examines the debates on principal aspects of British-Indian military history delineating changing perspectives and emerging concerns. Integrating military history with broader social and cultural studies, this book brings together landmark writings from across the globe.

This volume will interest scholars, students, and researchers of colonial history, politics, and defence studies, particularly those concerned with the linkages between state, war, and society.

Kaushik Roy is Lecturer, Department of History, Presidency College, Kolkata.


The present volume initially started as a sequel to The British Raj and its Indian Armed Forces: 1857-1939, edited by late Professor Partha Sarathi Gupta and Anirudh Deshpande, and published by Oxford University Press, New Delhi, in 2002. More than five years ago, a small group of researchers decided to bring out a series on the impact of armies and warfare on colonial Indian state and society. P. S. Gupta agreed to provide leadership to this ambitious project. Unfortunately, he passed away before the first volume saw the light of the day.

However, the response it ultimately received from several historians all over the world encouraged us to proceed with the second volume. Some of the contributors to the first volume have also written essays for the second volume; we have also included new essayists since the aim was to cast the net as wide as possible. The editor regrets being unable to include some notable published articles on account of copyright problems. He thanks all the contributors for making this volume possible.

In 2001, as part of the Themes in Indian History series, a volume on Indian military history titled Warfare and Weaponry in South Asia: 1000-1800, edited by Jos J. L. Gommans and Dirk H. A. Kolff was published by Oxford University Press. The present volume centring on the themes of war, state, and colonial society begins with the nineteenth century and carries and story forward to 1945. The principal objective is to analyse the colonial state's armies multidimensionally. The attempt is to integrate traditional military history with broader social and cultural studies. This volume, unlike other volumes in the Themes in Indian History series, has an added advantage-in addition to landmark pieces reprinted; fresh articles provide the reader the latest research on the subject.

Series Notevii
Introduction: Armies, Warfare, and Society in Colonial India1
Kaushik Roy
1Discipline and Disobedience in the Bengal and Madras Armies, 1807-5655
Kaushik Roy and Sabyasachi Dasgupta
2Greased Cartridges and the Great Mutiny of 1857: A Pretext to Rebel or the Final Straw?82
Saul David
3The Sepoy Mutinies Revisited114
Rudrangshu Mukherjee
4Seditious Letters and Steel Helmets: Disaffection among Indian Troops in Singapore and Hong Kong, 1940-1, and the Formation of the Indian National Army 126
Chandar S. Sundaram
5The Military Enters Indian Thought163
Stephen P. Cohen
6Contested Identities and Military Indianization in Colonial India (1900-39)190
Anirudh Deshpande
7Martial Gurkhas: The Persistence of a British Military Discourse on 'Race'225
Lionel Caplan
8Two Masculine Worlds Compared: The Army Cantonment and Jaipur Rajput Male Society in Late olonial India246
Dewitt C. Ellinwood
9 'Passing it On': The Army in India and Frontier Warfare, 1914-39275
Tim Moreman
10Were the 'Sepoy Generals' Any Good? A Reappraisal of the British-Indian Army's High Command in the Second World War305
Raymond Callahan
11The Shiver of 1942
Indivar Kamtekar
Annotated Bibliography358
Note on Contributors373

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