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Title: Imagining resistance : British historiography and popular fiction on the Indian Rebellion of 1857-59
Author: Chakravarty, G.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1999
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The thesis is a study of British historiography and popular fiction on the Indian 'Mutiny' of 1857-59. The historical writings that I have considered are mainly those written between 1857 and the 1870s, and for the novels the period I have chosen is between 1857 and 1947, the year of Indian's political independence. The first chapter is a reading of the histories by John William Kaye and Charles Ball. Here I have tried to show the ways in which historiography makes sense of and narrates anti-colonial resistance. The discussion also offers an occasion for introducing some of those historical and political-administrative issues which underlie the rebellion and that recur, with varying emphasis, in the texture of the novels. The second chapter examines the literary and social contexts of the British in India. While the novels of the rebellion belong to a tradition of colonial adventure novel, they are also located in a literary history specific to the British empire in India. At the same time, this literary history reflects the sociological and cultural bearings of Anglo-India, and embodies changes of attitude and policy as a period of 'orientalism' is followed by the ideological dominance of missionary-utilitarianism. The third chapter examines the ways in which the novels articulate the plot of Anglo-Indian love, marriage and domesticity with the plot of the rebellion. The articulated structure of the 'Mutiny' novel, in turn, demonstrates the filiation and overlap of those representational emphases that I have identified in Chapter Two. The fourth chapter examines the representation of imperial heroism in the novels. By first comparing the heroic idiom of the novels with the more ambiguous testimony of British first-person accounts of the rebellion, the chapter demonstrates the presence of two distinct modes of heroic conduct; and if the 'pragmatic' boy-scout hero is an instrument of surveillance and espionage, the 'auratic' Mutiny hero embodies the natural legitimacy of the imperial project. The fifth chapter explores the theme of surveillance in more detail. Projected from the 1890s and thereafter into the rebellion, the British spy-heroes of the Mutiny novels embody demands for knowledge by means of which the East India Company and the post-1858 imperial state sought to understand and control the motions of the subject population. Finally, the chapter argues that in representing the rebel world, often through the mediation of the disguised spy-hero, the Mutiny novel functions as an ethnographic exercise. In so doing, the novels at once exploit and annotate earlier modes of representation such as high orientalism and the picturesque, and discover in the usual sites and tropes of those earlier modes the presence of political resistance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available