Andrew T. JarboeDec 1, 2021
Indian Soldiers in World War I
Race and Representation in an Imperial War
University of Nebraska Press 2021
More than one million Indian soldiers were deployed during World War I, serving in the Indian army as part of Britain's imperial war effort. These men fought in France and Belgium, Egypt and East Africa, and at Gallipoli, in Palestine, and in Mesopotamia. While Indian contributions to the war have long been recognized (unlike other colonial contributions), it has long been disparaged and lacked significant scholarly attention, especially in the western academy.
In Indian Soldiers in World War I: Race and Representation in an Imperial War (University of Nebraska Press, 2021), Andrew T. Jarboe reconstructs the Indian experience of the war, examining the contested representations that British and Indian audiences drew from the soldiers' wartime experiences and the impacts these representations had on the British Empire's racial politics. Presenting overlooked or forgotten connections, Jarboe argues that Indian participation contributed decisively to the war effort. At the same time, Indian participation in the war led to a hardening of the British Empire's prewar racist ideologies and governing policies, and did not result in advancement toward Indian national aspirations or improvements in racial equality. When Indian soldiers participated in the brutal suppression of anti-government demonstrations in India at war's end, they set the stage for the eventual end of British rule in south Asia.
Indian Soldiers in World War I will interest readers with an interest in World War I, imperial history, South Asian history, and is an important contribution to a growing field of scholarship about the contributions of colonial subjects to the war effort--and how broken promises made during the war continue to have ramifications long after decolonization.
Christopher S. Rose is a social historian of medicine focusing on Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean in the 19th and 20th century. He currently teaches History at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas and Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas.