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State change in the Punjab: professional and personal experiences of British civil servants over India's independence and beyond

Coombs, Catherine Eleanor Brown (2011) State change in the Punjab: professional and personal experiences of British civil servants over India's independence and beyond. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

�The Government of one country by another inevitably leaves its mark on both ruler and ruled.1 The 1947 partition which accompanied the independence of India and Pakistan was a colonial tragedy which as yet has not been fully explored. The extent of the violence which accompanied the division of Bengal and Punjab has invited recourse to explanations which emphasise its exceptionalism. This thesis uses a case study of British Indian Civil Service (I.C.S.) officers in 1930s and 40s Punjab to challenge this representation, and suggest how the mentality of late colonial rule accepted violence as a fundamental aspect of Indian nature. The sources used are memoirs, recounting brief colonial careers after several decades of subsequent work back at 'home' in Britain or elsewhere in Britain's declining empire. These experiences shape a collective memory of colonial Punjab which is transmitted as a remarkably cohesive narrative form. The unity of message gives important insights into the mind-set of the I.C.S. at district level, and its surviving esprit de corps beyond the colonial environment. Collective memory alongside fictional representations have disseminated an image of the I.C.S. which emphasises its power and prestige; this thesis challenges the extent of that authority to suggest how reliance upon local networks of control facilitated continuity in styles of local governance in Punjab post-1947. The memoirs in this thesis have attracted previous attention in nostalgic histories of the Raj and its lifestyles. Whilst this has led to them being overlooked by historians in the past, this thesis argues that the use of these accounts in popular representations of empire in Britain has made them vital to understanding the idealised, romantic imagery of empire which still survives today.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of History (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2012 12:14
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2089

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