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The Insecurity State: Punjab and the Making of Colonial Power in British India

Mark Condos

978 1 108 41831 7
List price(s):
99.99 USD
75.00 GBP
87.53 EUR

Publication date:
3 August 2017

Short description: 

A provocative examination of how the British colonial experience in India was shaped by chronic unease, anxiety, and insecurity.

Full description: 

In this provocative new work, Mark Condos explores the 'dark underside' of the ideologies that sustained British rule in India. Using Punjab as a case study, he argues that India's colonial overlords were obsessively fearful, and plagued by an unreasoning belief in their own vulnerability as rulers. These enduring anxieties precipitated, and justified, an all too frequent recourse to violence, joined with an insistence on untrammelled power placed in the hands of the executive. Examining how the British colonial experience was shaped by a chronic sense of unease, anxiety, and insecurity, this is a timely intervention in debates about the contested project of colonial state-building, the oppressive and violent practices of colonial rule, the nature of imperial sovereignty, law, and policing and the postcolonial legacies of empire.

Table of contents: 

Introduction: fear, panic, and the violence of empire; 1. Colonial insecurity in early British India, 1757-1857; 2. Re-assessing the 'garrison state': pacification and colonial disquiet in Punjab; 3. Law, the Punjab school, and the 'kooka outbreak' of 1872; 4. Frontier terror and the Murderous Outrages Act of 1867; 5. Imperial recruiting and imperial anxieties, 1870-1920; Conclusion: colonial vulnerability and the insecurity of empire; Epilogue: the insecurity state today.


Mark Condos obtained both his B.A. and M.A. at Queen's University in Canada. In 2013, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, where he worked under the supervision of the late Professor Sir Christopher Bayly. In 2014, Dr Condos was awarded a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship at Queen Mary University of London. His current research examines how different forms of legal and extrajudicial violence were incorporated by the British and French empires in their attempts to police different frontier regions during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.




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