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Cultures of empire in the tropics

Masters and servants explores the politics of colonial mastery and domestic servitude in the neighbouring British tropical colonies of Singapore and Darwin. Like other port cities throughout Southeast Asia, Darwin and Singapore were crossroads where goods, ideas, cultures and people from the surrounding regions mixed and mingled via the steam ships lines. The focus of this book is on how these connections produced a common tropical colonial culture in these sites. A key element of this shared culture was the presence of a multiethnic entourage of domestic servants in colonial homes and a common preference for Chinese ‘houseboys’. Through an exploration of master-servant relationships within British, white Australian and Chinese homes, this book illustrates the centrality of the domestic realm to the colonial project. The colonial home was a contact zone which brought together European colonists, non-white migrants and Indigenous people, most often through the domestic service relationship. Rather than a case of unquestioned mastery and devoted servitude, relationships between masters and servants had the potential not only to affirm but also destabilise the colonial hierarchy. The intimacies, antagonisms and anxieties of the relationships between masters and servants provide critical insights into the dynamics of colonial power with the British empire.

Transforming indirect rule
Ben Silverstein

received and transformed around the empire. His Political Memoranda were the ‘District Officer's Bible’, and represented an attempt to continue to control administration, in Northern Nigeria especially, after his retirement to Europe. Across 13 memoranda, he set out procedures for dealing with an extraordinary range of matters, from the duties of political officers to the administration of taxation to the appropriate way to plan a township. The Dual Mandate , by contrast, was written with a more open ambition of influencing all European practices of tropical

in Governing natives