Durba GhoshJan 20, 2022
Political Violence and the Colonial State in India, 1919–1947
Cambridge University Press 2017
Gentlemanly Terrorists: Political Violence and the Colonial State in India, 1919-1947 (Cambridge University Press, 2017) by Durba Ghosh uncovers the critical place of revolutionary terrorism in the colonial and postcolonial history of modern India. The book reveals how so-called 'Bhadralok dacoits' used assassinations, bomb attacks, and armed robberies to accelerate the departure of the British from India and how, in response, the colonial government effectively declared a state of emergency, suspending the rule of law and detaining hundreds of suspected terrorists. Ghosh charts how each measure of constitutional reform to expand Indian representation in 1919 and 1935 was accompanied by emergency legislation to suppress political activism by those considered a threat to the security of the state. Repressive legislation became increasingly seen as a necessary condition to British attempts to promote civic society and liberal governance in India. By placing political violence at the center of India's campaigns to win independence, this book reveals how terrorism shaped the modern nation-state in India.
Durba Ghosh is a professor of history at Cornell University. She specializes in modern South Asian history, and her teaching and research focus on the history of British colonialism on the Indian subcontinent.
Shatrunjay Mall is a PhD candidate at the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He works on transnational Asian history, and his dissertation explores intellectual, political, and cultural intersections and affinities that emerged between Indian anti-colonialism and imperial Japan in the twentieth century.