Intoxicants and the Indian colonial army : consumption and control, 1857-1919

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Between 1857 and 1919 the military hierarchy of the Indian Army had to learn to carefully control and manage colonial regiments. Indian soldiers elected to serve under the British, they did not do so from patriotism or a desire to subjugate India. Instead they fought for a mixture of incentives and a special relationship with their imperial rulers based on consensus and compromise. One of these compromises involved intoxicants as the wide variety of social groups who joined enjoyed a range of different drugs and alcohols. This project seeks to assess how the European component of Anglo-Indian forces considered, understood and reacted to these habits. It traces attitudes towards intoxicants in relation to key medical, military and political debates from the time of the Indian Mutiny where the European fear of the sepoy army was grounded. Military responses were from then on crucial in deciding policies based on these fears. They played a key role in combatting antinarcotic movements in India and later internationally. Throughout the First World War, the habits of sepoys were of key concern as the habitual user depended upon his source of intoxicants to function. Such examinations challenge the current understanding of those dominated by empire while adding to studies which underline the complex relationship between the British and Indian soldiers. Looking closely at the European attitudes and responses serves as a lens through which to observe and understand the complexities of governing colonial forces and the influence of the latter in deciding policy.
Date of Award1 Oct 2017
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)
SupervisorJames Mills (Supervisor) & Emma Newlands (Supervisor)

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