Michael SilvestriMar 8, 2022
Policing ‘Bengali Terrorism’ in India and the World
Imperial Intelligence and Revolutionary Nationalism, 1905-1939
Palgrave Macmillan 2019
Policing ‘Bengali Terrorism’ in India and the World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) by Michael Silvestri examines the development of imperial intelligence and policing directed against revolutionaries in the Indian province of Bengal from the first decade of the twentieth century through the beginning of the Second World War. The book advances research on the imperial origins of British intelligence in the interwar period and shows how intelligence practices were diffused throughout the British Empire. Colonial anxieties about the ‘Bengali terrorist’ led to the growth of an extensive intelligence apparatus within Bengal. This intelligence expertise was in turn applied globally both to the policing of Bengali revolutionaries outside India and to other anti-colonial movements which threatened the empire. The analytic framework of this study thus encompasses local events in one province of British India and the global experiences of both revolutionaries and intelligence agents. The focus is not only on the British intelligence officers who orchestrated the campaign against the revolutionaries, but also on their interactions with the Indian officers and informants who played a vital role in colonial intelligence work, as well as the perspectives of revolutionaries and their allies, ranging from elite anticolonial activists to subaltern maritime workers. By exploring how the British Empire came to define anti-colonial resistance as ‘terrorism’, this book offers new insights into the historical roots of terrorist movements and the uses of intelligence.
Michael Silvestri is a professor of history at Clemson University. He is a historian of the British Empire and a specialist in modern British and Irish history.
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.