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Knowledge mobility and eighteenth-century military colonialism
Huw J. Davies

Military officers were an integral part of Britain’s imperial expansion in the eighteenth century. Colonial knowledge was one aspect of a knowledge network that helped drive military innovation and adaptation. In the place of formal education, British military personnel read books broadly related to their profession. Military history was popular in the first half of the century, as officers basked in the reflected glory of Marlborough. Mid-century military defeat, however, brought a new focus on continental military theories and treatises. At the same time, military personnel frequently visited the sites of past military campaigns. In this sense, officers learnt quite literally from the terrain on which battles, campaigns and wars had been fought. In combination, military print culture, colonial knowledge and terrain were the components of a military web, a collection of knowledge networks which catalysed the transmission and exchange of military knowledge throughout the empire. These were the means by which knowledge about war was generated and transmitted, and it is to these that we must look in order to understand British military success and failure in the eighteenth-century empire.

in Empire and mobility in the long nineteenth century
Nineteenth-century seamen’s missions and merchant seamen’s mobility
Justine Atkinson

In the early nineteenth century, evangelical seamen’s missions began to appear in Britain, tending to the spiritual and material needs of the sailor class. Fundamental to the movement’s belief in the seaman’s potential to demonstrate British and Christian values to non-Christian exotic communities was the assumption that sailors were a transient people, considered most useful to the empire when travelling ‘on their element’, the sea. Sailors’ behaviour on shore, however, could be detrimental to the empire’s image, often impacting on both settled and indigenous communities. Attempts by colonial missionaries and merchants to direct the sailor’s movements while in port sought to allay local anxieties by reaffirming his place on the sea. The mobility of seamen in China’s Guangdong Province and efforts to provide them with spiritual welfare reveal the anxieties of colonists where the British Empire was yet to have a firm foothold. Over the course of the nineteenth century, attitudes towards the permanence of sailors changed as the relationships between British traders and Chinese authorities shifted, demonstrating conditional acceptance as colonies became more self-assured of their place within empire, or came to regard the presence of seamen as confirmation of their own right to occupy a peripheral space.

in Empire and mobility in the long nineteenth century
On the road with a colonial meteorologist
Martin Mahony

Enthusiasm for the connective power of aeroplanes and airships between the two world wars saw aerial mobility rise to prominence as a British imperial project, yet little attention has been paid to the practices, technologies and ‘moorings’ by which the atmosphere was rendered a medium of imperial mobility. One of the most significant parts of this infrastructure was the knowledge and predictive potential provided by meteorology. In order to make sense of how emerging practices of colonial meteorology and imperial aviation were changing conceptions of colonial space, this chapter explores one meteorologist’s own forms of mobility as journeys by car and aeroplane were undertaken to develop and inspect the infrastructural moorings of emergent imperial mobilities. Making use of the memoirs of Albert Walter, government statistician and meteorologist in British East Africa, along with colonial and metropolitan government archives, the chapter examines how mobilities were recounted through narrative forms which called forth older modes of imperial travel writing which Mary Louise Pratt (1992) has analysed as a window onto the ‘anti-conquest’ of scientific knowledge-making and colonial administration.

in Empire and mobility in the long nineteenth century
Charlotte Wheeler- Cuffe’s exploration of the frontier districts, 1903
Nuala C Johnson

Lady Charlotte Wheeler Cuffe was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in April 1922. This honour was in recognition of her contribution to studies in natural history, accumulated during the twenty-five years she spent in Burma with her husband, as part of the colonial service. During those years she travelled extensively around the colony, exploring relatively unknown terrains, and gathering knowledge about the country’s botanical and anthropological make-up. Moreover, she and her husband were variously posted in different locations, from Rangoon in Lower Burma to Mandalay in Upper Burma. In 1903 the Wheeler Cuffes were transferred from Toungoo to Mandalay, giving her new opportunities for plant-hunting and botanical painting. Drawing on her private letters, day diaries and botanical illustrations, this chapter will focus on the practices of journeying during her first year in Mandalay (1903–4). It will consider the zones of contact, routes of mobility and mechanisms of inclusion or erasure that went into the making of knowledge about the region’s natural history during this period. Thereby this investigation will open up new dimensions to the project of reconstructing the geographies of colonial knowledge, gender and scientific inquiry, and the role of the visual in scientific communication.

in Empire and mobility in the long nineteenth century
Regal ministers of eclipsed empires in India
Priya Naik

This chapter looks at the roles, lives and ambitions of the ministers of the princely states of the South Asian subcontinent. Highly educated, sharp and very well remunerated, the Indian dewans, as these ministers were called, formed a part of the political elite during British colonialism. Many were knighted, and they played a crucial role in governance, negotiating local pressures within the princely states while demonstrating administrative efficiency to the British. By the end of the First World War, with the growing participation of the Indian princes in the British Empire, the ministers’ role and responsibilities expanded to include representing the Indian princes at international forums, such as the League of Nations, the Imperial Conferences and the Round Table Conferences. The chapter looks at the many roles these men played, from representing their people, the princes and finally, the British Empire, as well as the tensions between these demands.

in Monarchies and decolonisation in Asia
Sarawak and the Brooke dynasty’s centenary of 1941
Donna Brunero

This chapter investigates the representations of Sarawak under its White Rajas as a model of imperial benevolence, and examines how the ideals of the Brooke raj were conveyed through the centenary festivities which were held in September 1941. Following a brief overview of the history of Sarawak, of Brooke rule and the place of rituals in empire, the chapter explores the events of the centenary week, the popular culture expressed at bazaars and competitions, parades, performances and speeches, and analyses how each reveals the crafting of Brooke rule. It also examines the fundamental changes afoot as a new constitution granting greater self-government was introduced during the centenary celebrations. The chapter demonstrates that by studying how the centenary was celebrated, we gain insights into a territory at the edge of Britain’s formal empire as well as the Brooke dynasty’s self-fashioning of rule in Sarawak.

in Monarchies and decolonisation in Asia
Bao Dai, Norodom Sihanouk and Mohammed V
Christopher Goscha

In 1945, when the French scrambled to rebuild their empire shaken by the Second World War, only the Vietnamese emperor Bao Dai appeared to challenge colonial rule in Indochina. Sihanouk and Mohammed V appeared to be the docile ones in Cambodia and Morocco. All of that changed within a decade as Bao Dai threw in his lot with the French, while Sihanouk and Mohammed V led independence crusades against their colonial kingmakers. This chapter uses a comparative framework to explain why two colonially crowned monarchs in the French empire – Norodom Sihanouk in Cambodia and Mohammed V in Morocco – survived decolonisation to become the fathers of independent nations while Bao Dai in Vietnam did not. Four main factors help explain these two different outcomes: the nature of French colonial monarchy in each protectorate; the specific local, national and international circumstances; the individual personalities of each sovereign; and the strategies they employed.

in Monarchies and decolonisation in Asia
Negotiations at the end of British rule in the Shan States of Burma (Myanmar)
Susan Conway

After her victory in the 2015 elections, Aung San Suu Kyi announced a plan of reconciliation after decades of ethnic conflict in Myanmar. In 1947 her father had attempted a similar plan, culminating in the Panglong Agreement signed in London with Clement Attlee and the Panglong Conference held in the town of that name in the Shan States. This chapter examines the historical and cultural background to these negotiations from the point of view of the minority Shan people and their rulers. It reveals how the Shan reacted to the tensions and conflicts that surrounded the signing and why they felt that the British failed them.

in Monarchies and decolonisation in Asia
Abstract only
Rajas, maharajas and others in post-colonial India
Jim Masselos

The chapter follows the ruling princes of India, the maharajas, rajas, ranas and others, from the partition of British India and the establishment of the successor nations of India and Pakistan in August 1947. It tracks Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Patel’s integration of the princely states into India, and the problems posed by the former princely state of Kashmir. In 1971, Indira Gandhi’s Congress Party won a landslide victory in general elections in India. The size of her majority enabled her to abolish the princes’ regal privileges and slash their privy purses. The ex-rulers attempted to cope with their difficult financial situation by, among other measures, converting assets such as their palaces into luxury hotels, or by promoting new industries in their former territories. Other ex-princes entered public life from different directions and some stood for election to parliament – with varied success. The chapter concludes with a look at popular attitudes to the ex-princes using their depiction on a logo developed by Air India for its posters and calendars. Its maharaja was presented as having a likeable and humorous persona – and witty.

in Monarchies and decolonisation in Asia
Yogyakarta during the Indonesian decolonisation, 1942–50
Bayu Dardias Kurniadi

The Sultan of Yogyakarta is the only royal figure in Indonesia who now retains an official government position, both as head of his sultanate and as hereditary governor of the province of Yogyakarta. This chapter explains how Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX (1912–88) was able to safeguard and strengthen that position through his support for Indonesian republicans in the struggle for independence against the Dutch in the 1940s, his negotiations with the new government to secure recognition of Yogyakarta as a ‘Special Region’ of the country, his own charisma and administrative abilities, as well as astute actions in favour of his subjects during this period. The contrasting case of Surakarta, where the sultanate survived for only a short time beyond independence, is also considered.

in Monarchies and decolonisation in Asia