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Imperial Connections

India in the Indian Ocean Arena, 1860-1920

Thomas R. Metcalf (Author)

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Paperback, 284 pages
ISBN: 9780520258051
October 2008
$31.95, £21.95
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An innovative remapping of empire, Imperial Connections offers 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.
List of Illustrations
Preface

Introduction: Empire Recentered
1. Governing Colonial Peoples
2. Constructing Identities
3. Projecting Power: The Indian Army Overseas
4. Recruiting Sikhs for Colonial Police and Military
5. “Hard Hands and Sound Healthy Bodies”: Recruiting “Coolies”
for Natal
6. India in East Africa
Conclusion

List of Abbreviations
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index
Thomas R. Metcalf, Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, is author of Forging the Raj, Ideologies of the Raj, An Imperial Vision: Indian Architecture, and Britain’s Raj (UC Press), and, with Barbara Daly Metcalf, A Concise History of Modern India.
“Thomas Metcalf’s study of India in an Indian Ocean arena is innovative in allowing us to connect the use of governmental, legal, and ruling frameworks from colonial India across a wider space, their linkages with specific labouring, clerical, and diasporic circuits across empire, as well as the complex identities they generated for the British Indian subjects who moved with them. . . . Metcalf’s is a welcome and comprehensive effort to bring what is variously a transnational, imperial, oceanic, and a global history forward.”—Jayeeta Sharma Canadian Journal Of History
“With names, facts, figures, and concepts, this is a detailed, fine, and useful study.”—Choice
“A book one enjoys reading. In beautiful prose and with abundant facts, . . . a thought-provoking and truly innovative work.”—The Statesman
“An invigorating and most useful book that deserves a wide readership among Africanists as well as Indian Ocean specialists.”—James R. Brennan Journal Of African History
"Imperial Connections challenges the Eurocentrism implicit in many accounts of modern European empires. Focusing on the British empire when it was at its zenith, Metcalf analyzes the pivotal role the Raj played in the running of the empire in regions as far flung from one another as, say, Egypt, Uganda, Natal, and the Malay peninsula. This innovative book is a real tour de force from a respected and versatile historian of India."—Dipesh Chakrabarty, author of Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference

"As he has done regularly throughout his career, Thomas Metcalf has once again refreshed the study of British imperial history with a bold new perspective. Imperial Connections puts South Asians—soldiers, policemen and labourers—right at the heart of his study."—C.A. Bayly, Cambridge University, author of The Birth of the Modern World

"This is a distinctly original study which re-centers colonial power in provocative ways. Metcalf asks a simple question—why were Indians so persistently to be found elsewhere in the British empire, and in such significant numbers? Then elegantly offers answers that force us to re-think the operations of imperial power in critical ways. Wide-ranging, elegantly written, and meticulously researched, Metcalf's is an important and a persuasive study."—Philippa Levine, author of Prostitution, Race and Politics: Policing Venereal Disease in the British Empire, and forthcoming, The British Empire, Sunrise to Sunset

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