Conference at Edinburgh University, 23rd-26th July 2007


Seema Alavi [Jamia Milia Islamia] 'Travel and the nation: Maulana Jafer Thanesri as a mutiny convict'
This paper argues that the history of the mutiny has been largely written within the contours of the anti-colonial, secular-nation state. This has resulted in the marginalization of the histories of people who culled their sense of proto-nationalism from both a colonial as well as an Islamic discursive frame. Such omissions in the historiography of the mutiny and the struggle for freedom from British rule that followed have created the binaries of revivalist and reformist, cosmopolitan and religious, progressive and jihadi, communal and nationalist in the historical studies of the later period that was marked by high nationalism.   This paper focuses on a mujahid- Maulana Jafer Thanesri- who was locked in the penal colony at the Andaman island for his activities during 1857. It discusses his writings to understand how his sense of belonging changed as a consequence of his movement from Thanesar, in Punjab, to the island, and his subsequent long stint at the penal colony. Thanesri¹s sense of Self was transformed as a consequence of his 1857 experience. Indeed 1857 concretised both his Islamic imaginary as well as defined more clearly the territorial contours of his proto-nation. This paper locates mujahids like Thanesri at the cusp of the Islamic and the Western colonial global to offer some rethink on the binaries of Œnationalist¹ and Œcommunalist¹ that color our understanding of nation and nationalism.

 Clare Anderson [University of Warwick]: 'Sites of Provocation and Coalescence: jails as spaces of rebellion in 1857-8'
During the uprisings that swept across north India during 1857-8, rebels broke open over forty jails, often leaving them badly damaged or completely destroyed, and set loose over twenty thousand prisoners, most of whom subsequently slipped out of the purview of the colonial state. This paper will examine jail breaking during the mutiny-rebellion in order to probe the relationship between incarceration and the revolt. Drawing on hitherto untapped vernacular sources, I will argue that the mutiny-rebellion was a decisive moment in the history of Indian imprisonment, for it consolidated the colonial jail as a crucial site of provocation and coalescence concerning British interventions into cultural affairs. In examining closely Indian understandings of the relationship between the colonial jail and Indian society, the paper brings a new dimension to historiographical understandings of the nature, meaning and even trajectory of the revolt.

 Jill Bender  [Boston College]: 'Sir George Grey and the 1857 Indian Rebellion: the unmaking and making of an imperial career'
The Indian Revolt of 1857 has a central place in the history of the British Empire . Discussions of its impact have been largely confined to Britain and India , however, and its ramifications for other areas of the empire remain relatively unexplored. This paper examines the career of Sir George Grey between 1857 and 1868 and shows that the events of 1857 had a profound impact on imperial policy in the white settler colonies. As governor of the Cape Colony during the Indian uprising, Grey contributed regiments, horses, and artillery to British efforts in India . Additionally, he mobilized volunteers from the German Legion stationed in South Africa to serve in India , and sent 32 officers and 1,028 men without consulting London . In response to his independent actions, Grey was promptly recalled to England . In 1861, however, he was appointed governor of New Zealand , with the remit to improve relations between the Maori and the British settlers. Exploiting the fears that the events of 1857 had generated among the British and drawing on the supposed lessons of the Indian Rebellion, Grey responded to the Maori King movement with great force. Grey's career provides a window into the ways in which 1857 shaped imperial relations and governance.

Gautam Bhadra [Centre for Studies in Social Science, Calcutta]: 'What Constitutes a Margins or Margins? The politics of  perception and the representation of power:  the insurrection of 1857 in Kolhan' The essay would focus on an insurrectionary experience of 1857 in a ‘marginal' area. It is necessary to define the very notion of ‘margin' in historical writing; it ought to be contextual. A ‘margin' may mean a sense of peripheral experience to a ‘centre' of power evolving over time and space. A ‘margin' also, at times, overlaps with boundary, pointing a space between a culture, a political formation and a geographical region. How Kolehan has been envisaged as a marginal area by the Company since the days of Wilkinson and been treated as border-region among the contending chiefdoms in Bengal and Bihar would be treated historically in a few introductory pages.

Margin stands in contrast with the center and at the same time interacts with it. One exists with the other. The paper would bring out this issue in the narrative of the insurrection in Kolehan. The chronology and the sequence of events would be an entry point to the analysis. The very battalions which crushed a mighty tribal revolt of the Santals between 1855 and 1857 began to be defiant as soon as the news of the rebellion of the 8 th and 7 th infantry reached their detachments at Hazaribagh 27 July, 1857. The onward march of Ramgarh Regiment had, however, different impacts on different tribal communities in Chotanagpur proper, Singbhum, Palamau and Sambalpur. The detachment at Chaibasa revolted as late as December 3 and opened up the dynastic politics at Chakradharpur. The Kols as a body revolted and disarmed the moving army but refused to hand them over to Dalton , the commissioner of Palamau. The whole edifice of the Wilkinson system, based on the chieftain-military alliance was at stake. Arjun Singh, the nominal leader, surrendered in 1859, but the local tribes continued their war as late as middle of 1861.

The narrative would show the shifting focus of the rebellion's center from Ranchi to Chaibasa. Again, the civil rebels had fought against the marching military insurgents; but, the popular upsurge, in a momentary political vacuum, totally rejected the system imposed by the Company since 1830s.

There was also assertion of community under the hierarchy of the Rajas, the Diwans and the Mankis. Wilkinson's definition of the community had been reworked in two definitive acts by the assertion of autonomy: (a) modification of village boundary and (b) the right to burn witches. Witch burning became, as if, the assertive power of the community over hierarchical politics. The ordinary villagers and landless tribes could sense their power only through such tales of violence and vengeance.

Finally, the restoration of authority by E.T. Dalton, narrated in the form of his great anthropological treatise, encapsulated all these fragments in a reconstruction of ‘margin' firmly appended to an emerging administrative structure of a core area. The structure is going to be beneficial but, distant, confident in acquiring a distinct body of knowledge through counter-insurgency and counter-diplomacy. Both of them - a sense of triumph by the Centre and a defeat by the margins make ‘1857' just a year of an event in making the agency of Chotanagpur.

Shailendra Bhandare [Ashmolean Museum, Oxford:]'Rethinking the Revolt: Coinage in 1857-59'
  The paper addresses instances of independent coinage by the rebels at Delhi , Lucknow and Jhansi (amongst a few other places) during the Mutiny years. It draws upon worthwhile numismatic material and complements it with hitherto unpublished archival material. It is a well-established fact that the 'Indian' side of historical evidence for the Mutiny years is often under-represented. Coins struck by the rebels are thus a welcome adjunct. Moreover, the coins shed important light on some aspects of the Mutiny which are historically debated upon.

Tithi Bhattacharya [Purdue University]: 'Haunting History: ghost Stories of and about 1857'
The events of 1857, like all major historical events, were both immediately historicized and left to the interpretative mercies of posterity. Chronological time played an important role in constituting winners and losers, to the extent that appellations ­ mutiny, war of independence- were as important as historical narratives. In real historical time 1857 was a defeat for the Indian side, a conclusive end. For the future nationalist historian, however, 1857 was a mere beginning. The telling of the events of

1857, then, raises iconic historiographic questions for the scholar about endings and beginnings. Does the rebellion end in 1858 or in 1947? Does 1857 reassert itself throughout the nationalist period? In other words does 1857 'haunt' the narrative of Indian nationalism?

This paper will look at this question in its most literal sense. We shall look at four ghost stories, all set in the context of the mutiny, two by British authors and the other two by Indians. If the mutiny is seen by later nationalists and historians as beyond temporal completion then ghosts are perhaps the best representatives of such a moment. Unfettered by spatial or chronological location ghosts can continually revisit the historic narrative till they are accorded a conclusion, a resting, of their choosing. Ghost stories of the mutiny thus play an important historiographic role. They signpost 'unrest' that go beyond the moment of the actual event. In this paper we will revisit the meaning and constitution of that unrest and try and understand ghosts as political visitations from an unfinished project that did not rest till it acquired narrative and historical peace.

Marina Carter & Crispin Bates [University of Edinburgh]: '1857, migration and the South Asian diaspora'
While there have been a number of studies of the native armies during British rule, particularly around the time of the uprising, few have devoted much space to a consideration of the prospects and predicament of ‘disbanded' and ‘mutineer' sepoys in the aftermath of the revolt, aside from those leaders and convicted murderers who were killed or transported. The present paper assesses the responses of British Indian officials to the ‘problem' of dealing with rebel sepoys, and considers the contrasting attitudes of a number of representatives of colonial interest groups to the question of reception of potential transportees. For many disbanded sepoys, and villagers in regions affected by the uprising, socio-economic dislocation resulting from the protracted struggles surrounding the insurgency may well have played as important a role as considerations of disaffection and fear of punishment, in the decision of unprecedented numbers of individuals and families to leave India for employment in the sugar producing colonies. Any consideration of the role of the uprising in fostering the marked increase in indentured migration is complicated, however, by the issue of overlapping geographies, in particular correlations between traditional regions of recruitment for overseas labour, and those severely affected by the military actions. This paper will suggest some avenues of further research for the elucidation of the role of migration in the 1857 uprising.

Gautam Chakravarty  [Delhi University] 'Mutiny or War? Revisiting an old debate'
The problem of naming the events of 1857-59 is almost a commonplace in historical writings and not without reason, for the choice of a name implied an explanation of those events, and explanations were usually tied to political positions. By the early twentieth century, the debate had taken a form that endures to this day, as radical nationalists discovered a general state of ‘war' in the events of 1857-59, while the apologists of empire preferred the suggestion of a local disturbance that the term ‘mutiny' evoked.

  But this debate conceals more than it reveals. For one, the origins of the ‘mutiny or war' quarrel considerably antedates the nationalist and imperialist points of view, and may indeed be found within the terms of colonial governmentality. As I hope to show by drawing on several texts from 1857 to 1862, the rebellion brought into the open certain long-standing fissures within British policy on the nature and function of the East India Company's rule; fissures that would re-appear with certain modifications in the ‘mutiny or war' debate that began in the early twentieth century.

Secondly, the debate has tended to obscure the moot question: that of the constitutional relation between the two principals in the case: the Mughal emperor and the East India Company. Words such as ‘mutiny' or ‘war' are not very helpful unless their legal context is first established; and, as I hope to show, once that context is established, the terms may acquire new, unexpected meanings.

  Finally, the ‘mutiny or war' debate has tended to isolate the events of 1857-59 from other instances of the nineteenth-century colonial ‘small war', whether in China, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Jamaica or North Africa, all of which were moments of resistance against colonial domination, and shared certain tactical and strategic similarities. Theories of the ‘small war', which have appeared in recent decades in several guises, may perhaps yield some new tools for reviewing the rebellion.

Sudhir Chandra: '1857 and the Indian intelligentsia'
Indian public opinion in the later 19th century was significantly affected by 1857. Focusing on contemporary and near-contemporary educated Indian responses to that great happening, my presentation will highlight the underlying ambivalence of those responses. In the process, it will question the received historiographic view that until Savarkar's celebration of it as the first ‘War of Indian Independence', 1857 was viewed, and condemned, by educated Indians - English-educated Indians, to be precise - as a mere mutiny/revolt cobbled together by disgruntled, backward-looking, vested interests.

Covering roughly three decades from the outbreak of 1857 to the early, supposedly ‘mendicancy' years of the Indian National Congress, the presentation will examine a few periodicals, political speeches and literary works to show that wide internal divergence characterised the immediate and near-immediate educated Indian response to 1857. Representing the best informed Indian opinion in the Bengal and Bombay Presidencies respectively, the Hindoo Patriot and the Rast Goftar covered those cataclysmic events in a way that made them the focal points of Anglo-Indian ire. So much so that the Friend of India , a prominent Anglo-Indian weekly, frenziedly described the Hindoo Patriot as ‘the organ of the sepoys' and demanded stern action against it. At the same time, we have Surendranath Banerji who invoked the shade of Deo Narain Singh ‘to bear witness to his trials and sufferings, his gigantic exertions to crush out the seeds of rebellion and restore peace and order.'

Contemporary literature in different Indian languages bears testimony to the same divergence. There is, for instance, a poignant description in Sarasvatichandra , the foremost Gujarati novel of the period. ‘Rajputi' is here shown to have been ‘widowed' following the defeat of 1858. As against this, Radhacharan Goswami's Yamlok ki Yatra (Hindi) consigns the mutineers to a particularly horrifying hell.

These are complementary, not mutually opposed, responses. Hence their underlying ambivalence. This presentation will work out that ambivalence in the afterlife of 1857 as a factor in the making of Indian public opinion

  Chhanda Chatterjee [Vishva Bharati University]: 'The Great Rebellion of 1857 and the Birth of a New Identity of the Sikhs of the Punjab'
The celebration of the hundred and fiftieth year of the outbreak of 1857 in India is bringing out many tales of Indian valour and heroism from all parts of India . Although strangulated and blown out of existence before long by the superior organization and judicious use of power by the English rulers, the Mutiny of 1857 has been canonized by the later generation of Indian historians as the first spark of a consciousness of nationalism. However, the Sikhs, who had indeed been the flower of the Indian military aristocracy and whose unflinching courage and heroic sacrifice at the altar of Muslim persecution adorned the annals of northern India immediately before the annexation of these regions by the British, are unable to join in this chorus. There is on the other hand, an unspoken assumption among later day historians that the Sikhs were the ‘quislings' who had actually helped the British to put out the uprising of the heartland of India and extend their rule on this land for another century. The response of the Sikhs to this allegation has so far been meek and subdued. In my paper therefore I have tried to take a fresh look at the turn of events in the Punjab during the fateful days of 1857 and the reaction of the Sikhs to this outbreak. The reverses of 1845-46 and 1849 in the hands of the ‘purbiahs' (easterners) had not been taken kindly by the large and powerful army of the Sikhs. In 1857 they probably saw an opportunity to avenge this wrong. They must have resented the ‘sub-imperialism' of the heartland of India (spoken of by Andrew Major in his ‘Return to Empire') on this last outpost of native freedom in the sub-continent. They therefore did not consider it unbecoming of themselves to respond positively to the twin opportunity of returning to their military glory and sagging finance (since the disbandment of 1849-50) by recruiting in large numbers to the British regiments. This drive for enlistment in the army gave rise to a renewed emphasis on their earlier military ethic and heroic tradition of martyrdom laid down by the Sikh Gurus. With the patronage of the ruling class, the Sikh reformist associations or Singh Sabhas later sophisticated these historical incidents to a cult of religion. Martial ‘symbols' were made a part of Sikh identity and with the encouragement of the British military authorities Khalsa were encouraged to isolate themselves from the syncretist tendencies of Hinduism. Great interest was developed by ritualists in the Sikh past and Max Arthur Macauliffe claimed to have found several prophesies of the Sikh Gurus regarding the liberating role to be performed by the British on Sikh society and Sikh politics in days to come. 1857 in Sikh history thus stands for a reversal of the set back of 1849 and an opportunity to make a name for themselves as a great martial race once again in the theatre of history and to stamp the course of subsequent history with the mark of their strength and intelligence inspite of the slenderness of their numbers.

Vinayak Chaturvedi  [University of California, Irvine]: "Long Live the Book, The Book is Dead!": The Life of V.D. Savarkar's The Indian War of Independence, 1857.

This paper will examine the international impact and reception of V.D. Savarkar's The Indian War of Independence , 1857. Savarkar originally wrote the book in Marathi to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1857 rebellions in India . Members of his political organization in London and Paris translated parts of the book into English and several vernacular languages. The original Marathi manuscript was lost in transit and only the translations remained. The book was first published in English in 1909 in Britain and was immediately banned by the government. Most copies of the first edition of the book were destroyed. Yet the book circulated widely in India and Europe as new editions and translations were published throughout the twentieth century. This paper will examine the impact of Savarkar's writings on 1857 on intellectuals across the political spectrum and the ways it inspired nationalists in the struggle for India 's independence. It will also discuss the transnational reception of Savarkar's writings, especially considering the German translation of the book in the 1940s. Finally, the paper will address the influence of Savarkar's history in present day India .

    Mahmood Farooqui 'The Police in Delhi in 1857'

Urdu loota dariba loota loota maliwara
Gurwalon ki kothi luti, luta mandir sara

The Mutiny Documents, stored in the National Archives in India were were extricated and extracted from various sources in the city by the occupying English army – from the kotwali (police station), the secretariat, homes, spies, each one diligently marked and copied, sometimes in triplicate, stored as a monument for posterity, one of the great founding moments of the colonial archive. There are thousands of these documents stored in the National Archives, indexed in a published catalogue called the ‘Mutiny Papers'. Most of them are in Shikasteh Urdu, some in Persian and a few in Urdu. For all the colonial intentionality motivating this extensive, meticulous and arduous classification, they provide one of the densest descriptions of a city at war and at work, of administration and anarchy, of deceit and desperation. Many of these documents have never even been seen by anyone.

The documents describe in great detail the functioning of the city during the siege. Petitions from ordinary citizens, shopkeepers, tenants, soldiers, sepoys and correspondence to and from the Kotwal form the mainstay of these documents. They allow us, then, to get a glimpse into the day to day functioning of the city, of administration, of the order and chaos during the period of the siege.

In a manner that is very familiar to contemporary Indians, we find the Delhi police being used as the strong arm of the state even as the fragile administrative authority is forced to acknowledge the power of public opinion. They are asked to commandeer labor and resources, to make forcible searches and arrests but without offending anyone! Overall the Police emerge as the lynchpin of the administrative system formed by the native army, in tow with the court and the Princes. The paper assesses the role of the police as it emerges through these documents.

 Michael H. Fisher [Oberlin University] 'The Multiple Meanings of '1857' for Indians in Britain'
Some of the larger meanings of the conflict of 1857 were its effects on Indians in Britain . For those thousands of Indians of all classes already present there, the news of this conflict profoundly altered their positions in British society. Working class Indian servants and seamen found themselves assaulted verbally and otherwise by passers-by on the street as "Johnny Sepoy." Their hitherto relatively easy relationships with British men and women of their own economic class became charged with racial and sexual tensions as lurid rumors and reports flooded London about sepoy atrocities against British men, women, and children. Similarly, Indian elites in Britain found their loyalty to the British Queen questioned. For example, the huge delegation from the deposed King of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah-which included his mother, a brother, and a son, having come to plead for his restoration-had to alter their mission fundamentally. As the news of the fighting began to shape British policies, this Awadh delegation suddenly proposed that Wajid Ali Shah be released from prison in Calcutta and put in charge of a British army that would reconquer north India in the name of Queen Victoria.

 From 1857 onward, indeed, British attitudes toward Indians generally, including toward Indians in Britain , shifted. British racial theory altered, based on 1857 and other colonial conflicts in New Zealand and Jamaica . Hence, both immediately and subsequently, the events of 1857 reshaped and continue to affect the meaning of being South Asian in Britain .

Charu Gupta [NML Research Fellow]: 'Condemnation And Commemoration: (En)Gendering Dalit Narratives Of 1857'
The aim of this paper is two-fold. The first is to examine ways in which contemporary debates and popular Hindi Dalit literature of north India has dealt with the role of Dalits in the freedom struggles of the colonial period, particularly the revolt of 1857. And the second is to relate it specifically to the role of feudal patriarchies in 1857 on the one hand, and the representation and participation of Dalit women in the revolt on the other. In the process, the paper wishes to interrogate conventional and historical writings on 1857, mainstream portrayals of Dalit women, and the contradictory Dalit perceptions of the revolt.

The recent festivities around 1857 have invoked heated debates regarding the participation and role of Dalits in it. We mainly get two responses. On the one hand, there is deep condemnation of 1857 from a Dalit perspective, and on the other, there is an assertion and commemoration of Dalit participation in it. However, both these versions of 1857 signify the genealogies of ambiguous nationalisms, where the Dalits, from their own standpoint, play with the restrictive lineages of historical pasts. Their politics of exclusion and inclusion, censure and celebration shows that they wish to be a part of the nation and yet cannot be. They also construct their present positions depending on existing structures and needs. While differing in their readings, they together represent alternative accounts of 1857, converging histories, myths, realities and retelling of the pasts.

These literatures are crucial also to examine 1857 from a gendered lens. While there is an attack on feudal patriarchy, recognised as a critical characteristic of 1857, there are also Dalit female heroic icons -- some constructed, some exaggerated, some discovered -- like Jhalkari Bai of the Kori caste, Uda Devi, a Pasi, Avanti Bai, a Lodhi, Mahabiri Devi, a Bhangi, and Asha Devi, a Gurjari, who have become the symbols of bravery of particular Dalit castes and ultimately of all Dalits in 1857.

These condemnatory and inspirational Dalit histories of 1857 are not just reinventions/appropriations of the past. They also reveal how Dalit standpoints can challenge partial/prejudiced textual and academic narratives of 1857. They also provided gendered accounts of histories from below, which reach towards their own ‘reality'. Together they represent counter-histories of 1857.

Hasan, Farhat [Aligarh University]: 'The Mutiny As A Clash Of Civilizations: Representation Of The English (Angrez) In Vernacular Press'
Awaiting abstract

Jan Peter Hartung [University of Bonn]: 'Abused Rationality? — On the Role of ma?quli -Scholars in the Events of 1857/8'
This paper investigates the involvement of the famed philosophers and logicians of the so-called “ School of Khayrabad ” in the uprising of 1857/8 in Delhi and Awadh. It will challenge to prevailing perception that the rational Islamic sciences ( ma?qulat ), centred on philosophy and dialectical theology and based on a solid adoption of the Aristotelian logic, essentially worked for social and political integration. From the examples of leading representatives of the Khayrabadi-tradition, namely Fadl-i Imam Khayrabadi, his son Fadl-i Haqq, and the former's pupil Sadr ad-Din Dihlawi Azurda, it will be shown that the rationalist inclination of these scholars helped to serve both ends, depending on the respective political circumstances. Thus, their positions before and after the uprising cannot be separated from their perspective on legitimate political sovereignty which, as it will be shown in the paper, contradicted the perception of the EIC on that matter.

Carol Henderson [Rutgers University]: 'Spatial Memorialising of Atrocity in 1857: Memories, Traces and Silences in Ethnography'
The memorialization of conflict in landscape seen as a social process incorporates multiple and often competing discourses of events, the silencing and reconstitution of memory. British spatial memorial practices of the war of 1857, while drawing on familiar idioms of the metropole, faced their colonial subjects in the colonial setting and the-then highly contested meanings of these events . Over time, this discourse of memory assumes its hegemonic posture of glorification of imperial rule, of narratives of “good” colonial subjects, and of an event largely recalled as a mutiny of troops rather than as a far-ranging and complex event.

The spatial memorial practices of their Indian opponents, in contrast, produce a counter-discourse. Memorial practices drew on Indian—often specifically local—idioms and, as such, appear to have been largely invisible to their colonial rulers. Although historical evidence on the trajectories of social meaning associated with these memorials is scant, owing to their rural and non-elite settings, these discourses of memory focus upon defense of homeland, remembrance of atrocity, and—dare one suggest?—a pan-Indian identity.

Aziz Husain [Jamia Milia Islamia]: '1857 as reflected in Persian and Urdu documents'
A collection of Mutiny papers in Persian and Urdu is available in National Archives of India, New Delhi and Bhopal , U.P. State Archives, Lucknow and Allahabad , Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner , M.P. State Archives, Bhopal , Bihar State Archives, Patna , Maulana Azad Library, AMU, Aligarh . These documents are written in shikasta and nastaliq script. These documents may be around sixty thousand. Out of these I have consulted few documents because medieval Indian historians who know Persian considered the 1857 period beyond the realm of their specialization and post – 1857, historians of modern Indian history have little or no knowledge of Persian. This is a limitation in our historiography in the 21 st century. 

The Sindhia of Gwalior, the Holkar of Indore, the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Raja of Jodhpur and Mewar, Nawab of Bhopal, Rampur and Tonk, Raja of Patiala, Nabha, and Jind and other Sikh chieftains of Punjab , the Maharaja of Kashmir, and many other Hindu and Muslim taluqdars and zamindars supported British. But it appears from the Persian and Urdu documents that people of Rajasthan, Punjab, Malwa, Bhopal , Rampur , Jammu , Rampur Aligarh, Najibabad opposed the imperial authority. There are instances where they did not carry out the orders of their respective Rajas and the Nawabs.

Persian and Urdu poetry also played an important role in the revolt of 1857. Verses of contemporary Persian and Urdu poets and their letters are an important source to study various aspects of 1857. Ghazi Muhammed Amin Amrohvi wrote a masnavi relating to 1857 and about the atrocities of British army on Indians. When British officials received reports that some poets also encouraged Indians through their poetry, those poets were arrested and hanged. Shaikh Ghulam Nabi a resident of Amroha submitted an application dated 12 th July, 1857 to Bahadur Shah that he was serving in British army at Benaras but he had left the service and wanted to serve him. Similar application was also submitted by Ghulam Abbas a resident of Muzaffar Nagar and there is a document dated 12 th Zilhijja, is having a list of thirty eight Muslim residents of Amroha, who joined the service of Bahadur Shah. That is why, we see that even when Bahadur Shah left the Red fort and British army became successful in demolishing Kashmiri gate, so Jiwan Lal, an eye witness to the events writes in his Roznamcha that “a distance of six farlang from Kashmiri gate to Red fort was covered by the British forces after a gap of five days.” I am going to examine Mutiny papers in Persian and Urdu languages in this paper because it provides new information on Mutiny.

 Dirk Kolff [Leiden University (NIAS)]: ' Rumours of  the Company's collapse: the mood of Dasahra 1824 in the Panjab and Hindustan'
The paper attempts to understand a number of activist movements in Northern and Western India that were triggered, in September/October 1824, by the news of the recent defeat of the Company at Ramu in Burma and the, partly correct, rumour that all its North Indian troops were retreating to Calcutta to ward off a Burtmese attack on that city. The generally held conviction that the end of the Company's military occupation was imminent, rendered visible a series of political and cultural aspirations, especially in the region that would later be the scene of the 1857 uprising. Labelled either as "incredible follies" or "insurrections" by the British, these movements, it is argued, should be perceived as measures, not illogical in the circumstances, taken to cope with the emergency of the sudden evaporation of British power. Some of the initiatives taken were in the nature of state formation, the restoration of a ruling Gujar lineage or of Jat regional clan dominance, whereas others had to do with the prevention of cow slaughter in the service of the vorqacity of the British barracks, or took the form of millenarian revivalism, for instance inspired by a sadhu in the Panjab "who would be king" or a dakoit sardar in the Doab who announced that he would soon seat himself on the throne at Delhi.

The episode offers a rare window on the various scenarios that asserted themselves in North India as soon as the collapse of the colonial state appeared to call for a return to normal political and cultural entrepreneurship.


   Rosie Llewellyn Jones: The ‘Other' Victims of 1857

Among the avalanche of books and memoirs produced after the Mutiny by British survivors caught up in it, are clues to those who did not, or could not, express their own views. The wife of the Chaplain at Lucknow , describing the cheerful behaviour of British sergeants' wives wrote: 'It is wonderful how little that class of people seem to feel things that would almost kill a lady.' Voices of the 'other ranks' are largely silent. Yet there are accounts by Government-employed Indians, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, Armenians, and poor Britons which are buried in the Political Consultations and Home Department records in the National Archives, Delhi and the British Library, London . This is not where we would expect to find them, because the statements or narratives of such people are not, in themselves, political. They were recorded because they threw light on particular events during the mutiny, or because the writers needed assistance from Government officials. Using these records, this paper will attempt to reconstruct how the mutiny and its aftermath affected people whose stories are not part of mainstream mutiny history. The role of the Prize Agents will be described, and 'Rewards and Punishments' by the British Government considered.

Thomas Lloyd [University of Edinburgh]: ‘Thuggee' and the Margins of the State in Early Nineteenth-Century Colonial India
The central concern of this paper is the ‘thuggee' phenomenon of early nineteenth-century colonial India . British officials initially understood ‘thuggee' to be a peculiar form of brigandage confined to the Ceded and Conquered Provinces of the north-western Gangetic plain. They distinguished it from other forms of banditry by its practitioners' combined use of eloquent deception to lure, and swift strangulation, to dispatch, travellers passing through the region. Around two decades after these initial colonial encounters, an ambitious but unfulfilled district officer, William Sleeman, and his immediate superior in the Company's political department, Francis Smith, launched a wide-ranging, quasi-military campaign to suppress ‘thuggee' in India, emanating from the non-regulation Sagar and Narmada Territories in western central India. It was in the process of garnering support for this initiative from senior administrators—most notably George Swinton, the Company's chief secretary—that ‘thuggee' first took shape in colonial imaginations as the fanatical murder-cult that has become the stuff of colonial lore. By the early 1830s, ‘thuggee' had been re-figured as an ancient practice that perpetuated itself through the careful induction of young initiates into a sociology of devotional bloodlust, practiced to appease the goddess Kali. It was no longer believed to be rooted in one particular locality, let alone connected to specific social, economic or political conditions. ‘Thugs' were now thought to be ruthless, unrepentant serial killers with a unique subculture that included ritual rites and a private language, and valorised their lifestyle as both seductively footloose and gloriously sanctimonious. For Sleeman, writing in 1830, the suppression of ‘thuggee' was nothing less than the ‘duty of the supreme Government', which intimated not only his confidence in the solidity and moral authority of British rule, but also his sense of the haplessness of the indigenous population. To introduce a recurrent theme in the colonial discourse on ‘thuggee', this reflected a double glory onto Sleeman and the staff of his subsequently created ‘Thuggee Department': first, as the élite corps of officers who had successfully unravelled the ‘thuggee' conspiracy and brought its perpetrators to ‘justice'; second, as the saviours of hitherto prone indigenes, now liberated from the spectral depredations of this lurking menace.

From the prevailing colonial perspective of the early-nineteenth-century then, the ‘thugs' can be viewed as the marginal mutineers par excellence of pre-1857 ‘ India '. Geographically, they were encountered on the western periphery of the Company's northern territorial possessions and administrative jurisdictions. Politically, socially and economically, they defied categorization (even though ‘tribe' and ‘caste' were then used with far more fluidity and trepidation than in subsequent colonial ethnography and policy), evidently enjoying disturbingly wide-ranging mobility, apparently capable of enacting a kaleidoscopic array of identities in order to dupe their victims, and operating with impunity thanks to shady deals with corrupt landowners. Culturally, they were eclectic and idiosyncratic: to Sleeman's fascination and astonishment, ‘both' Hindus and Muslims were known to have belonged to ‘thug' gangs; their ‘goddess', Kali, appeared to be interchangeable with other, less-known indigenous deities (both ‘popular' and ‘Hindu'); and they conversed with one another in a secret cant called Ramasee . For the triumvirate of Sleeman, Smith, and Swinton, formulating plans to suppress ‘thuggee' in 1830, these marginal characteristics amounted to both an unprecedented challenge to existing colonial ‘policing' and a formidable affront to British authority: ‘thug' attacks rarely, if ever, left behind the requisite forensic evidence or witnesses needed to secure individual convictions for specific criminal acts of robbery and murder, while the existence of the phenomenon in British-administered territory exposed the limitations of colonial control over both civil society and revenue management. Accordingly, ‘thuggee' was treated as an exceptional case in respect to the extant colonial criminal law and trial procedure. Concomitantly, the campaign to suppress it extended the boundaries of colonial legal power in the subcontinent. The ‘exceptions' made to prosecute ‘thugs' tested and came to shape new rules: the catch-all legal innovations used were retained beyond the 1830s and were reformed and redeployed throughout the nineteenth century as weapons against analogous ‘collective' acts of criminality.

The anti-thuggee campaign therefore revealed both fractures in British rule in India and the lengths that the Company's state-builders were prepared to go to heal them. Colonial administrators' priority of maintaining order even if it compromised the ‘due' process of law, conviction that British legal practice could not be translated onto the terrain of ‘Indian' criminality, inclination to de-legitimize unrest or ‘criminality' as the fomenting of a minority's religiously-inspired, a-political urges, and trumpeting of the righteousness of British-led suppression of them, were not new to India in 1857; neither were desperate manifestations of indigenous attempts to overcome the structural hardship generated by the Company's land-revenue settlements and enforcement of rent collection, nor the novel alliances formed in rural societies to circumvent or alleviate the pressures brought about by them. The margins of peripheral Indian societies, economies and polities, and of the British colonial state-building, law-making and policing concerns therefore yield rich histories for this conference's reconsideration of the 1857 ‘mutiny'.

Andrea Major [University of Edinburgh]: 'The Hazards of Interference: British fears of rebellion and sati as a potential site of conflict, 1829-1857'
Despite warnings by revisionist historians such as Eric Stokes that attempts to understand popular unrest in 1857 must ‘touch upon a deeper level than the vague disturbance of the popular mind by fears for religion and caste, springing from British interference with customs like widow burning and widow remarriage or British enforcement of the intermingling of castes through common messing in gaols and the common carriage of passengers by the railway' [1] British explanations of 1857 have continued to rely heavily on Victorian assumptions about the hazards of British interference with Indian ‘superstition'. Such interpretations are deeply embedded within pre-existing orientalist discourses about the centrality of religion in Indian life, as well as a post 1857 agenda that sought to delegitimise the uprising by presenting it as ‘irrational' religious fanaticism. Such an approach not only obfuscates the complex and diverse social, economic and political concerns that prompted the uprising, it obscures the real patterns of causality between specific religious issues and unrest.

    This paper will explore British fears of rebellion that surrounded the prohibition of sati in 1829, arguing that the  assumptions about the dangers of religious interference that solidified during the sati debate had a major impact on determining how the uprising of 1857 was interpreted. The prohibition of sati is frequently portrayed as one of the causes of Indian discontent in 1857 in British historiography, despite glaring contradictions and disjunctures between the two events. By exploring British experiences of sati as a site of contest between 1829 and 1857, this paper will suggest that sati was at best a marginal issue in the unrest of 1857 and the British appropriation of it a major causal factor reveals more about the assumptions and agendas that informed the construction of colonial discourses on 1857 than it does about the reality of the event.

[1] Stokes, E., The Peasant Armed: Indian Revolt of 1857 , (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1986).

Devadas Moodley [Greenwich University]: 'A Tale of Two Mutinies: Vellore, 1806 and Madras, 1809'
In studying mutiny and disorder in the early nineteenth century Madras army I have collected material on the sepoy mutiny at Vellore in 1806. Here I want to make a comparison with another mutiny, this time of British officers serving in Madras three years later. This would enable me to highlight issues of race, class and power which the previous publication left in abeyance. I will be examining the rhetoric of the officers and their supporters. Contemporary controversy highlighted the conciliatory actions of John Malcolm in reasoning with the officers as compared to the harsher treatment required by Sir George Barlow, Governor of Madras. Both these men were closely associated with Wellesley 's expansionist policies: their difference here was over discipline. How far can this be illuminated by applying Foucauldian concepts to the military sociology of the incipient Raj ? There is also some scope for examining gentry/middle class ideology and the corporate consciousness of the officer corps in India in this 1809 ‘white mutiny' which should prove instructive for the wider debates on empire in this period.

Projit B Mukharji [University of Southampton]: ‘Dinna Ye Hear it?' Mutiny in the Voice of the British Subalterns
While a rich vein of scholarship has developed in the wake of Edward Said's intervention, which seeks to disaggregate the homogenised representations of colonised peoples, comparatively little has been done along similar lines for the colonizer. Colonial narratives after all are notorious for their homogenised depictions of both.

Nowhere is this trend towards homogenisation starker than in narratives of the ‘Mutiny'. Yet, theoretically sophisticated recent scholarship on the subject continues mostly to speak of the ‘British imagination', as a unified, homogenous entity.

By relying mostly on Broadsheet Ballads held in the collections of the National Library of Scotland and the Bodelian Library, we intend to show that distinctions of class and nationality made significant differences to the way the Mutiny was memorialised and narrated. Pre-eminently it was not the sort of unabashed occasion for the articulation of a British nationalism, as is often thought. Instead Scottish and Irish ballads of the Mutiny often used it as an occasion for evoking Scottish and Irish nationalist sentiments. One such ballad for instance, started by recalling the Battle of Culloden, thus opening up ambiguities in its commitment to the British imperial project.

Gender too was articulated in a number of different ways and did not always conform to the depiction in the polite narratives studied by Jenny Sharpe, wherein women were persistently depicted as hapless victims designed to inspire outrage amongst the metropolitan public. Especially significant in this regard are the several ‘cross-dressing' ballads about the Mutiny. Not only do they depict women in active military roles, some folklore scholars such as Pauline Greenhill have also contended that cross-dressing ballads may have been a cipher for the depicting homosexual relations.

Much of these differences in depiction arise from the actual lived experiences of the balladeers. Coming from lower down the social scale than the authors of polite novels studied by Gautam Chakravarty, these balladeers often reflected the hardship of the white subalterns who fought in 1857. Poorly paid and without any pensions unless they were permanently maimed, they returned to poverty and humiliation at home. Many of the ballads directly raise these issues. Moreover the world of the white subaltern soldiery often included closer social contact with Indians, especially Indian women, with whom they often formed pseudo-marital alliances. Both the tragic circumstances of their return as well as the closer social contact with Indians thus combined to produce a perspective on the Mutiny that exhibited sufficient distance from the narratives of imperial war-mongering that are to be seen in the polite registers of the time.

Rudolf Muhs [Royal Holloway London]: 'German views on the Indian mutiny'
Awaiting Abstract

Veena Naregal [IEG, New Delhi]: 'Merchant Networks and the Mutiny '
It has  been  argued  that  the political turmoil of  1857   did not remain  confined to discontent  in the  British Indian  Army, in fact, the   uprising   against the British enjoyed   larger support,and  even amounted  to  civil rebellion.    The  major events of  1857 in North India found  an echo in  various   parts of Central,Western  India and the Southern Maratha  country.However,  it is equally clear that the pattern of  events  outside  of the Ganagetic  plain differed significantly both in terms of   scale and the response  of  ruling native  princes.   Evidence shows that  two major  regiments  in the Bombay  Army mutinied. Further information also suggests  that merchant networks in   the Bombay region as  well as in Central India  came  under significant  political pressure during this period  for being  suspected  of  transferring  funds  to  Nanasaheb's  camp.  In this context, this paper will explore  the available archival  evidence  to examine  the  role of   important  native groups  such  as  merchant networks in Western and Central India, particularly  as financial agents  and   purveyors of   information  about the Mutiny

Alex Padamsee [University of Kent]: 'Muslim conspiracy and the state in the British colonial imagination in 1857'
This paper presents a revisionist account of the genesis and evolution of the British perception of Muslim ‘conspiracy‘ in 1857. Based on the detailed study of Anglo-Indian memoirs, fiction, journalism, correspondence, and official accounts, I locate this perception among, initially, Indian Civil Service officers. I argue that it was not simply the result of a generalised and predictable ‘Islamophobia', but rather a profound and specific crisis over the British ruling ideology of secular neutrality. Using recent psychoanalytic and sociological theories on the formation and maintenance of ideologies, I suggest that conflicts within the predominantly Anglican Indian Civil Service over the proper relations of church and government in the colonial state engendered during the rebellion of 1857 a corporate social fantasy centred on Muslim ‘conspiracy'. The particular contours of this fantasy resulted in Anglo-Indian writings over the next fifty years in a complex and disturbing process of representational stigmatisation and segregation - a process that would play an important role in the development of the British predisposition towards accepting the principle of separate electorates.

Vijay Pinch [Wesleyan College]: 'Prostituting the Mutiny '
Prostitutes are believed to have taken an active role in prompting the mutinies of the 3rd Light Cavalry and the 20th Native Infantry at Meerut . They also were reported to have offered their services to the rebellions at Lucknow and Delhi . Depositions taken later in 1857-58 paint a different picture however: that prostitutes knew of the imminent uprising in Meerut and even took steps to warn those in authority -- though their warnings were not heeded. In order to shed light on the conflicting political trajectories of prostitutes during the Mutiny/Rebellion, and to probe the conflicted meanings ascribed to sex-work in Company north India , I examine criminal court records in the years leading up to 1857. The picture of prostitution and policing that emerges from these records, I argue, is one in which officials, police, and prostitutes were bound to one another through what may be termed a benevolent paternalism, but a benevolent paternalism that only makes sense in the context of changing attitudes toward the moral economy of enslavement and the rise of a modern discourse of freedom. These conclusions afford, as well, a glimpse of the social, economic, and cultural mechanisms by which late-Mughal 'courtesanship' evolved into Company 'common prostitution' by the mid nineteenth century.

Avril Powell [SOAS. London]: 'Marginal Muslims: maulawis , munsifs , munshis and others '
The paper will examine patterns of response to the events of 1857-58 among some Muslim civil servants employed in the subordinate services in the North-Western Provinces in positions such as munsif , sadr amin and deputy collector, and also as professors and teachers in the Anglo-Oriental colleges of the region, notably in Delhi, Agra and Bareilly. Many were of maulawi background and education, but unlike those ‘ulama more directly associated with mosque and madrassa functions, whose involvements in 1857 have been examined previously, the responses of the ‘service' category, with the exception of some well known figures such as Saiyid Ahmad Khan, have had little critical attention so far. The object will be to disaggregate this service class to chart and evaluate some specific perceptions of events and decisions on stances and involvement, before, during and in the aftermath of rebellion.

  Satadru Sen [Queens College , City University of New York]: 'Mutiny's Children: Race, Childhood and Authority after Eighteen Fifty-Seven'
This paper examines the impact of the 1857 rebellion on ‘orphans' in British India . The war seriously altered the relationship between the British-Indian state and colonial children, triggering an interest (and an ideological investment) by the governing elites in institutions such as orphanages and reformatories. The children who entered these institutions were marginal twice over: once because they came from the margins of colonial society (as the children of subaltern whites, Eurasians, criminalized Indians, and aboriginal populations), and again because the spaces to which they were consigned were themselves located on a productive margin. The focus of the paper is on white and Eurasian children. The 'white narrative' of 1857 is remarkable for its obsession with the threatened Anglo-Indian family, including children in danger. It is not coincidental that the war was followed by a new visibility for white orphans, and eventually by Kim: the unparented white child gone native in the colony. This paper seeks to tie together the real, metaphorical and literary orphans that surfaced after 1857, and to ground them in the anxieties and mechanisms that were generated by the Mutiny.

 Badri Tiwari Narayan [GB Pant Social Science Institute, Allahbad]: 'Identity and Narratives: Dalits and Memories of 1857'
A major project of inventing their own histories is going on among the various dalit communities of north India . These histories are helping the dalits demarginalize themselves and become a part of mainstream contemporary Indian life, strengthening their own identities, inculcating self-confidence, improving their present and carving out a future. They are circulated through popular booklets that are read and disseminated by the neo-literate dalit population. Political parties, especially the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is using them for mobilizing grass root dalits, helping them to demand social, economic and political privileged based on the history of injustice done to them cast as an alternative history. It subverts dominant political discourses by providing a strong basis for an alternative.

This alternative history is an existential necessity for the dalits to combat the everyday humiliation encountered through dominant Brahminical cultural narratives. It is created by weaving together stories found in religious Brahminical popular texts about dissenting lower caste characters, who are glorified as dalit heroes who fought against upper caste oppression and injustice. The stories of unsung dalit freedom fighters who have been transformed into local myths, are also included. The language used is also different from Standard Hindi since folk proverbs, idioms, and symbols, and also the grammar and vocabulary of local dialects, are used. These new histories may prove to be histories of the future of subaltern communities of South Asia .

Kim Wagner [University of Edinburgh]: 'The Protocols of Nena Sahib: the 1857-fantasy of Hermann Goedsche'
The Prussian author of historical romantic fiction, Hermann Goedsche (1815-1878), is today best known for having written the source for the anti-Semitic text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion , which allegedly proved the existence of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy. Goedsche's mammoth novel Nena Sahib, oder: Die Empörung in Indien (‘ Nana Sahib, or: The Uprising in India ') written in 1858-59 under the pseudonym Sir John Retcliffe, is, however, entirely unknown outside the German-speaking world. This paper seeks to introduce this unique and fascinating work to a broader audience and to examine the context of Western fears of indigenous conspiracies as expressed in connection with the events of 1857. Written during the events, Nena Sahib offers a rare example of a Continental European perspective on 1857, which completely inverts the British literary representations while at the same borrowing heavily from the conventional repertoire of Orientalist stereotypes. In Goedsche's re-imagining of 1857, it is the British, described as the ‘Tyrants of the Earth', who are the villains and the righteous uprising is instigated by the noble German, Greek and Irish protagonists of the novel who have all suffered at the hands of the British. The narrative framework and political worldview presented in the Protocols is also to be found in Nena Sahib with only minor alterations: The 1857 Uprising is a conspiracy partly instigated by the European agents of Louis Napoleon III of France , and partly by the thugs and despotic Indian rulers. Yet Nena Sahib is just the most extreme example of the manner in which the events of 1857 have been associated with an entire host of outlandish themes, such as religious conspiracies, thugs, secret oaths, human sacrifice, rape and torture. Taking Goedsche's novel as a point of departure it is thus possible to examine the colonial nightmares of the Western imagination in relation to 1857 more generally.

Benjamin Zachariah [University of Sheffield]: '1857 in the Nationalist Imagination'
This is a paper not on event-history, but of readings of a set of events that loomed large in the imagination of empire and colony alike. It is about that awkward space in the intersection of history and collective memory that is the setting up of national lieux de memoire, in Pierre Nora's phrase. The problem of how to read the Revolt of 1857 has been a long-standing one in the historiography of India . We recognise that 1857 in various forms of collective imagination has come to overshadow 1857 in 1857. The sparseness of event-centred literature could be because it is difficult to interpret 1857 with any degree of comfort if one is committed to the values of a modernising or a secular state. Events are embarrassing: was the British atrocity literature based even on the semblance of a hint of actual event-history? (British brutality, of course, is well documented and even celebrated as the appropriately and truly manly response to the cowardly natives.) And then there is the problem of placing 1857 in a narrative of national progress. The trouble with 1857 is that it inhabits inappropriable ground: a coalition of ‘backward' elements drawn from the lower ranks of an army, elitist leaders, landowners and world-historically obsolete kings and princes were difficult to celebrate among ‘progressives'. And Indian nationalists of various types all wished to see themselves as progressives, even those nationalists we now see as somewhat backward. Further problems surround the rebels' use of religious rhetoric to cement solidarity with their cause. The paper seeks to explore some of these questions with a view to highlighting some of the problems of the development of a historiography whose habitual alliances and allegiances must relate to some form of ‘national' belonging.


‘Reporting 1857': the Indian Uprising and the British Media

Monday 23rd July, 2007, William Robertson Building,
George Square, University of Edinburgh

Esther Breitenbach [University of Edinburgh] Scottish Presbyterian missionaries in India : perspectives on the Indian Mutiny of 1857
 Scottish Presbyterian missionary activity in India was initiated in the late 1820s with the establishment of Scottish Missionary Society and Church of Scotland missions in Bombay and Calcutta . The field of Scottish Presbyterian missionary endeavour in India continued to expand throughout the 19 th and into the 20 th century, with, after the Disruption of 1843, all three main Presbyterian denominations developing missionary work in a range of locations across the Indian sub-continent. In terms of numbers of Scottish missionaries India consistently attracted the biggest share, even though in the later 19 th century missionary activities in Central Africa had a higher public profile in Scotland . While overall numbers of missionaries were not large, the impact that they had in shaping perceptions of the experience of empire at home was considerable.

 This paper will briefly outline the development of Scottish Presbyterian missionary activities in India from their inception in the late 1820s up to the period immediatedly following the events of the Mutiny of 1857. The paper will provide an account of the involvement in the events of the Mutiny of Scots missionaries and examine accounts of the Mutiny provided by missionaries, such as the reports by Alexander Duff published in the Edinburgh Witness. The paper will also examine contemporary debates about the role of missionaries in India and of religion in giving rise to the Mutiny. For example, a notable feature of the reaction of missionaries and missionary supporters to the Mutiny was the representation of the uprising as a sign of divine displeasure at the weakness of Christian evangelising in India , and at the exploitation of Indian wealth by the British administration in India . While at the time of the Mutiny itself there was a questioning of the role of missionaries and a recognition of the danger of offending the religious beliefs of Indian peoples, such doubts soon faded, and with the ending of the power of the East India Company following the Mutiny, resistance to the expansion of missionary activity was overcome. The paper will therefore also assess the impact of the Mutiny on subsequent Scottish Presbyterian missionary work, for example, attitudes towards the expansion of missionary work, modes of working, and the growing emphasis on work with women.

Andrea Major [University of Edinburgh] 'The Crescent Versus the Cross'? Missionary Experiences and Religious Interpretations of the Indian Uprising of 1857'
From the moment that insurrection swept across north India in the summer of 1857 until the present day, popular British accounts have sought to explain the uprising as a clash of religions.  Proselytising activity, religious insensitivity, the curtailing of some religious practices and apprehensions of forced conversion have all been blamed for the revolt in British historiography. The reality of religious feeling in 1857 has, however, become entangled with justificatory colonial discourses that seek to transfer culpability for the uprising away from the central structures of British imperialism and represent it as irrational, fanatical and unfounded, in order to legitimise its brutal suppression and the eventual re-imposition of British rule. The assumption that fears about conversion underpinned the uprising, for example, led some to blame missionary activity for provoking unrest. Always marginal to the main infrastructure of the colonial state, the ambivalent relationship between missionaries and colonial authority meant that they represented a convenient scapegoat in 1857. This kind of hostility, combined with the challenges invoked by the widespread vilification of the Indian character that accompanied the atrocities of 1857-8, necessitated the reassertion and reconfiguration of the rationale for proselytising activity, as the missionary societies sought to both defend their presence in India and reconstruct an image of the ‘heathen' that made him culpable but ultimately redeemable.   

This paper will use published and unpublished material from the London Missionary Society archive to explore the lived experiences of missionaries during 1857, the impact that this had on their conception of mission in India and the way in which their experience was reconstructed into a justificatory discourse for missionary activity by the LMS in Britain . In particular it will look at the extensive unpublished correspondence of missionaries on the field and compare this with the tightly edited extracts published for public consumption in the Missionary Magazine. A close reading of what was included and what was excluded from the public discourse will then be used to elucidate the processes and strategies by which the London Missionary Society sought to mediate public understanding of 1857 and its relation to mission activity and the impact that this had for future proselytising activity in the subcontinent.



The Military Aspects of 1857

Monday 23rd July, 2007, William Robertson Building,
George Square, University of Edinburgh

 Gavin Rand [University of Greenwich] "Learning the Lessons of '57: reconstructing the imperial military after the rebellion"
The proposed paper examines the impacts of 1857 by exploring the various ways in which the imperial military responded to the rebellion. While 1857 is (quite properly) identified as a seminal moment for the imperial state, the impacts of the uprising on the Indian Army and its officers and men remain relatively obscure. Much of the extant historiography assumes that the pragmatic and reactive nature of post-1857 imperial policy was reflected in the apparently piecemeal reconstruction of the military - a process which is seen to have been determined largely by financial and strategic expediency. Only after the 1870s, in the face of the 'Russian threat', is the imperial military seen to adopt a more proactive administrative strategy. However, though the process of reconstruction was undoubtedly constrained - by, amongst other factors, pressures on the colonial exchequer, local strategic concerns, as well as contradictory readings of the rebellion itself - it is clear that the events of 1857 dominated imperial military practice in the two decades which follow the uprising. The imperative to understand the rebellion and thereby insulate the imperial state from another such uprising underscores a proliferation of official and non-official discourse on 1857. Charting colonial responses to the rebellion through official documents, military journals and private papers, I argue that the historiographical tendency to interpret this period as one of consolidation disguises the numerous transmissions between 1857 and the latter, more familiar policies of Roberts et al. While responses to the rebellion were often anodyne and contradictory, the increasingly technocratic terms in which military strategy was formulated in the final quarter of the century can be traced through the varied responses proffered in the aftermath of 1857. If the rebellion demonstrated the strategic utility of the railways and telegraph, it also served, in this sense, to bolster a 'techno-political' rendering of military administration. Although it was not until Roberts' administration that this shift was manifested in military policy, it is clear that 1857 was a key moment in the genesis of such practice. Locating the impacts of the uprising in this way not only revises our understandings of the rebellion (and its influence on the imperial military) but also helps to throw light upon the wider shifts which transformed colonial rule in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Dr. Kaushik Roy [Presidency College , Kolkata] Combat, Combat Motivation and the Construction of Identity
Combat, rightly says Carl Von Clausewitz, constitute the central component of warfare. However, the New Military History under the impact of social history and cultural studies ignore combat and construct warfare as a continuation of social discourse by other means. This paper tries to mesh the New Military History with the traditional approach of studying combat by making a case study of the Great Mutiny of 1857-58 in India . Modern scholarship on 1857 revolves round the debate whether the uprising was a nationalist or a popular movement or merely a military mutiny. One thing is clear. The British had to deploy a large military force which engaged the rebels both in conventional and low intensity conflicts for two and half years before Pax Britannica was established in north and central India . Modern scholarship seems oblivious of this issue. Colonial officers poured a lot of ink over the theme of British victory over the rebels but came up with racial-biological explanations. Several accounts of the participants also highlight the stereotypes about themselves and the negative images they had about the ‘natives'. And these in the long run shaped construction of identities about both the colonizers and different communities among the colonized.

  This paper is divided into three sections. The first section shows the brutalizing effect of warfare on both the British and different groups among the ‘rebels'. The next section deals with combat psychology. The million dollar question is why they fought? The essay deals with the ‘will to combat' of the British, Sikhs and the Gurkhas allied with the East India Company. An attempt will be made to analyze the pre-combat and in-combat motivations of the ‘Pandies', the ghazis , and the construction of negative stereotypes about them by their opponents. The role played by the inter-linked issues of religion and caste, the incentive of plunder and ideas of masculinity in motivating different groups to join the combat shall also be probed. This will also throw light on the nature of uprising. And the last section takes up the issue of self perception and identity creation of both the sahibs and the sepoys. The rise of gentlemen officers imbued with muscular Christianity and the ‘martial races' from the periphery who replaced the high caste Hindu warriors of the plain are the principal themes that will be addressed. The British mobilization of the low castes in Awadh and Rajasthan will be looked into. Despite construction of a positive image about the marginal groups, why the Martial Race theorists refused to induct them into the post-Mutiny army is an issue that will be delved into. Since the sepoys and the sowars were mostly illiterate, they have left us with no memoirs or private papers. We have to depend on autobiographies of the British officers, their private papers at National Army Museum , London , military department files at Oriental and India Office Collection, unpublished regimental records and Foreign Secret Consultations at National Archives of India.

Gajendra Singh, [University of Edinburgh] Conceptualizing martialness: the ascription and re-ascription of martial identities in India from the mutinies of 1857 to the last days of the Raj
My PhD research is concerned with investigating the soldiering identities that were constructed by military and civil institutions in India , and how roles given definition to by pukka sahibs were actuated by ‘native' Indian sipahis (soldiers) in unforeseen and often unwanted ways. Yet, although my research is focused largely on unravelling the means by which these identities were renegotiated by Indian soldiers and the dissent that accrued as a result, the paper I propose for this conference is concerned with charting the substance of what martialized identities were in colonial India from the perspective of the military establishment. For in much history written to date, the situation in colonial India is portrayed as one in which Indians were totally objectified by many Britishers in accordance with a static binarism of favoured martial races and condemned non-martial peoples, with there being no interchange between the two. I will argue, however, that this view can only be sustained if one relies solely on a reading of the high colonial literature of the period written for a lay British public, such as George MacMunn's The Martial Races of India , and Frederick Roberts' Forty-One Years in India , and that if one moves beyond these writings one is confronted with a far greater dynamism and fluctuation of the terms of who was and who wasn't of a soldierly class in India.

Thus, I will show that Sikh Jats once lauded for their stolidity in the face of the enemy, came to be condemned for their susceptibility to sedition; Pathans, once seen as a noble frontiersman, was looked upon in disgust for their sexual ambiguity; and how Dalit and Adivasi soldiers, previously viewed as an ‘untouchable rabble', came in 1946 to be viewed as stalwarts of the British Raj. Moreover, I will show that these re-ascriptions of martialized identities in India were situated in the material realities of recruiters finding it difficult to obtain certain types of recruits and with instances of soldierly dissent and resistance.

Pritam Singh [Oxford Brooks University] Contesting Interpretation of the Sikh role in 1857
The argument of this paper is that the Indian nationalist historiography has wrongly portrayed Sikhs as collaborators of the British during the 1857 uprising. This paper attempts to show that the Sikh role during the uprising was determined by their perception of the role of the north Indians (Purbias) in the British annexation of Punjab in 1849. The paper will also discuss how 1849 and 1857 played an important role in the Sikh relationship with the colonial rule and with the Indian nationalist movement


Muslims and the State

Monday 23rd July, 2007, Conference Room,
David Hume Tower, George Square, University of Edinburgh

Ruby Lal [Emory University] In the Wake of Colonial Ascendancy: Rethinking Muslim Respectability 
This paper considers questions of social reform and family in nineteenth century India . In the writing on these themes, so far, the category of reform, like that of woman (as in women's education), seems to float in a historically and sociologically empty space. It is the placement of these concepts within particular ideological and cultural discourses that I want to foreground in this presentation. 

In the wake of colonial ascendancy, I shall argue, the reform we so insistently invoke was not for the transformation, but rather for the preservation of the family. This was a reform in which inherited notions of the family now get constituted, institutionalized, and remembered in new ways. I shall suggest that such ideas were being articulated not to conform to some ‘modern' standard, but to refashion and to finesse what were thought of as being long established ways of life for continued sustenance and vibrancy in a new economic and political context. With all the earnest re-thinking and re-articulation, however, the self-conscious object of the ‘reformers' was to reproduce the family, the values and respectability that were supposedly handed down through the ages. 

By taking illustrations from a couple of well known books of Muslim publicist Nazir Ahmad, among other ‘reformers', I shall argue that although the sharif woman appears to be the axis of the ‘reformist' debates, the object of the reformers was not to transform her, but to preserve the sharif family through her. To achieve this, the reformers bring the ‘literate' woman at the center of the respectable patriarchal family. Thus the figure of the woman (the educator) and that of a girl child (being educated) become preparatory figures to ensure that the honor and respectability of the family was preserved.


Historiography, pedagogy and future histories of 1857

Royal Asiatic Society, London, July 27th 2007

Bhagwan Josh   V.D.Savarkar's “ The Indian War Of Independence”: The First Nationalist Re-Construction of 1857
In India , History invariably evokes political passions in the public domain. One of the reasons for this is that the popular conception of history in the mass imagination continues to be an act of recognition and celebration of the spirit of selfless service, bravery and sacrifice on the part of individuals, families, castes, communities and political parties. History writing is considered as an important mode of appropriating, accumulating and constantly renewing “the cultural capital”, the durable stuff that goes into the making of contemporary political discourses in India . Savarkar's “The Indian War of Independence” was an important book written in this tradition.

In March, 2003, when a portrait of the Hindutva Hero, Veer Savarkar, was unveiled in Parliament's Central Hall, the public opinion was sharply polarized between those who sang his praises and others who denounced him for his role in the Indian national movement. For his followers, Veer Savarkar(1883-1966) continues to be a figure of great reverence despite the fact that he was included as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Gandhi. For them he is a patriot, prolific writer, historian, motivator, and above all an individual with a commitment to the idea of a “Motherland”. The book was written originally in Marathi, in 1908, when Savarkar was about twenty-five years of age and was living in London . The English translation of the book was printed in Holland and a large number of copies were smuggled into India . It has been claimed that so far six editions of the book have been published and it was widely read in the revolutionary circles of the nationalist movement. According to the Publisher's preface (London, May 10, 1909) Savarkar's objective in writing this book was to let the Indians know “how their nation fought for its Independence and how their ancestors died.”

This genre of ‘inspirational history' writing should not be confused with academic history and perhaps, should be judged on its own terms. A deep fault line continues to divide this sort of history from the multiple genres of academic history writing in India.

John Pincince V.D. Savarkar and the Indian War of Independence: contrasting perspectives on an emerging composite state
In the Indian War of Independence (1909), Savarkar described the important link between the nation and its historical narrative this way:

The Nation that has no consciousness of its past has no future. Equally true it is that a nation must develop its capacity not only claiming a past, but also of knowing how to use it for the furtherance of its future. (1)

Savarkar's inscription of the 1857 “mutiny” as a “war of independence” was not simply a nationalist reading of the past. Savarkar's Indian War of Independence served as an historical allegory for the present: it was to serve as an instrument through which to raise the national consciousness of Indians. Furthermore, the text was an attempt to reclaim the recent history of the Indian “nation” from the British. But, rather then serving as a means to increase Indian self-nationhood, Savarkar's book was a precursor to later writings that interpreted India's past in more excusive terms: as a Hindu nation re-awakening. This is evident in Savarkar's Hindutva (1923) and Hindu Pad Padshahi (1925). In this paper, I intend to examine Savarkar's seminal work on the “Mutiny of 1857” in terms of a historical narrative that reveals Hindu and Maratha exclusivity rather than as a text that celebrates a unified and composite past, present, and future Indian nation.

Gautam Bhadra 'How to write a patriotic history of the Rebellion of 1857? Rajanikanta Gupta's ‘Sipahi Juddher Itihas' and multiple faces of loyalty, anxiety and dissatisfaction
Rajanikanta Gupta (1849 – 1900) had hardly any formal college education. Coming from a poor Vaidya or traditional family of indigenous medicine practitioners, he suffered from a congenital deafness, barring him from pursuing any lucrative profession. He started his career as an assistant to Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay, the great educationist. He gradually wrote a number of textbooks on Indian History and learnt English on his own. He wrote a biography of Panini, following and revising the work of Theodor Goldstucker (Panini: his place in Sanskrit Literature). His lifetime project was, however, to write a history of the Sepoy Mutiny in vernacular. It is one of the earliest comprehensive, formal history of the Mutiny in any vernacular language, covering all the regions of India . Hr started collecting materials from 1870s. The first volume had been published in 1879; the fifth or the last volume was completed just before his death. The five volumes consisted of more than one thousand printed pages. He spent all his meagre savings in purchasing books, reports as well as in traveling all over northern India to collect oral evidence.

If edition is any index of reader's acceptance, no work, published either in Bengali or English, can match the popularity of this book written by any Bengali historian. His work has run up to twelve editions, the last being issued in 1990s. But much more than its popularity, even cursory perusal of the book would show its importance in evolving vernacular historiography as well as literary consciousness in this subcontinent during the 19 th century. My discussion would focus on this theme along three axes.

The narrative depends heavily upon the history of Kaye, supported by Holmes, official despatches and published trial papers. He has also gathered oral interviews for writing up the account of Nana Saheb, Amar Singh and Rani Lakshmi. It is interesting to note that through numerous narrative practices and deft use of sources he has written up an ‘affective' history. One may compare a passage taken from Kaye and its vernacular representation by Gupta; one may wonder how Liaqat Ali Khan's trial paper has been used in a dramatic and mysterious way; one may also wonder at his placement of suitable passages from Sanskrit classical literature and anecdotes to underline hidden grand schemes unfolded in ordinary events. All these literary techniques with exact reference to the sources, would unfold the narrative practices pursued in a great text of vernacular history. It would also raise a moot question, is there anything special in the ‘vernacularity' of history?

Ramendrasundar Trivedi, a great literary critic and a friend of Rajanikanta Gupta, would search this speciality in the language itself. He pointed out the literary credence of Bengali language used by Rajanikanta - its ‘ojo gun' or inspirational virtue, the use of metaphors, arrangement of paragraphs, placement of pauses has added a quality of orality to his literary exercise. This makes the narrative unique. Rajanikanta has written many chapters in his textbooks as a draft exercise before his book on the Mutiny. Comparing these chapters with the final versions of the book, may probe into the problem of ‘style' in vernacular history.

The book is full of distinct moves, a desire to transcend and an effort to restrain and limit. The over-arching imperial rule is beneficial, modernity under queen Victoria, is ultimate end of civilization to the subjects like Rajanikanta. But, the sepoys were tragic heroes, misguided and violent, yet honest to their beliefs. Everything cannot be judged in the scale of enlightenment and benefits of civilization. These two scales, split and employed at tandem in his narrative, makes it an interesting historiographical exercise.

The sources are Rajanikanta Gupta's multiple volumes as well as various textbooks and contemporary critical reviews.

Rudrangshu Mukherjee ' Sen and Chaudhuri as Historians of 1857'
 This paper looks at two of the most significant books to have been written on the uprising of 1857 in the years following India's independence. Sen's book was sponsored and promoted by the Government of India to mark the centenary of the revolt. The assumption was that all previous accounts since they had been written by Britons had contained biases. Sen's brief was to write an objective history. This paper will look at the problems that this created for Sen, and the tensions that can be detected in his narrative and his analysis. Sen, in fact, was heavily influenced in his approach by the one that had been adopted by British writers of the 19th century, especially Kaye. Chaudhuri, writing also in 1957 but after the publication of Sen's book, decided to take a different and a new approach. He had written a previous monograph on Civil Disturbances During British Rule in India , and he chose to follow the theme in the studying the uprising. He believed that enough had been written about the mutinies and the military aspects of the revolt. He wanted to look at the actions of the civil population, and to trace how a mutiny had become an uprising. This paper will contrast the two approaches.

Rajat Ray & Nupur Chaudhuri '1857: A Historiography'
After Independence and Partition, historians in the sub-continent and beyond re-addressed the question : What was the place of the Mutiny in the evolution of the struggle against colonial rule? Two points were of specific concern :
i)   The social basis of the uprising and
ii)   The mentality of 1857.
For some time, the Mutiny debate proceeded along the old channel : was it a Mutiny or was it a Civil Uprising, until Eric Stokes authoritatively demonstrated that it was a popular uprising with the mutiny of the sepoys at its very core. After this, the debate moved on to the participation of the lower orders in the uprising. Most recently the Mutiny debate has focused on the aspirations, mentality and organization in 1857. cannot be. They also construct their present positions depending on existing structures and needs. While differing in their readings, they together represent alternative accounts of 1857, converging histories, myths, realities and retelling of the pasts.

Vinayak Chaturvedi  "Long Live the Book, The Book is Dead!": The Life of V.D. Savarkar's The
Indian War of Independence , 1857.
 This paper will examine the international impact and reception of V.D. Savarkar's The Indian War of Independence , 1857. Savarkar originally wrote the book in Marathi to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1857 rebellions in India . Members of his political organization in London and Paris translated parts of the book into English and several vernacular languages. The original Marathi manuscript was lost in transit and only the translations remained. The book was first published in English in 1909 in Britain and was immediately banned by the government. Most copies of the first edition of the book were destroyed. Yet the book circulated widely in India and Europe as new editions and translations were published throughout the twentieth century. This paper will examine the impact of Savarkar's writings on 1857 on intellectuals across the political spectrum and the ways it inspired nationalists in the struggle for India 's independence. It will also discuss the transnational reception of Savarkar's writings, especially considering the German translation of the book in the 1940s. Finally, the paper will address the influence of Savarkar's history in present day India .


Public Lecture

National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh,
Tuesday 24th July, 7pm

Professor Rajat Ray (Vice Chancellor, Vishva Bharati University) and Nupur Chaudhuri (Presidency College Calcutta): 'We and They in 1857: The Mutiny from the Mutineers Mouths'
What would the Mutiny look like of we look at it from the point of view of the mutineers? What did they call it – ‘the Mutiny'? ‘The First War of Independence '? Neither. Nor did they conceive it as an inversion as the latter day Subalternists have done. They usually called it a war ( jung ), and conceived it as a restoration of the sovereignty of the Mughal Empire. Their ideas and institutions reflected this old world mentality. But more than mentality, it is the emotions that provided the dynamism behind the uprising. These emotions may be summed up in two words – race and religion, in that order. This essay will seek to explore the mentality, the aspirations and emotions of 1857, and do so in the words of the indigenous participants themselves. To this end, both speech and the written word will be utilized, especially unguarded utterances and the reflective proclamations. The first reflects the sentiment of race the second reflects the sentiment of religion. There is a sense of the entire country and its legitimate Mughal sovereignty, but no sense of nationalism.