Exhalted Order: Muslim Princes and the British Empire 1874-1906
Radford, Kristopher Donald
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This dissertation charts the genealogy of a particularly British Indian form of colonial government called indirect rule. Indirect rule, which came to be deployed across several Muslim dominated states of Africa and Asia in the late Victorian period, was by that time a century old British colonial strategy. First employed by agents of the East India Company in the middle of the eighteenth century, this form of imperialism subsumed many of the states which comprised the Indian political landscape in the post-Mughal period. These so-called princely states were not conquered outright by the British, but rather came under their control though a range of technologies, from the deployment of powerful agents and coercive treaties, to the establishment of a discursive framework which conceived of these states as ‘oriental’ and hence requiring of a special form of government. Indirect rule, however, was never the most common form of administration in the British Empire. Even in India, direct rule, where precolonial social and political structures were replaced by new modes of government, was much more common. This work, therefore, explores why in the last quarter of the nineteenth century the architects of British rule in Malaya, Egypt, the Persian Gulf, Zanzibar, and Northern Nigeria all elected to impose variants of this unusual form of government invented in eighteenth-century India. It does so by examining the ideas, assumptions, and strategies of the officials who were chiefly responsible for the form of these colonial regimes through a variety of archival and other documentary evidence. In so doing this work seeks to demonstrate that British Indian ideas and technologies had a definitive impact on the development of the British Empire across Africa and Asia.