What was imperial honor and how did it sustain the British Raj? If “No man may harm me with impunity” was an ancient theme of the European aristocracy, British imperialists of almost all classes in India possessed a similar vision of themselves as overlords belonging to an honorable race, so that ideals of honor condoned and sanctified their rituals, connecting them with status, power, and authority. Honor, most broadly, legitimated imperial rule, since imperialists ostensibly kept India safe from outside threats. Yet at the individual level, honor kept the “white herd” together, providing the protocols and etiquette for the imperialist, who had to conform to the strict notions of proper and improper behavior in a society that was always obsessed with maintaining its dominance over India and Indians. Examining imperial society through the prism of honor therefore opens up a new methodology for the study of British India.
List of Contents
Contents Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 1 The Cult and Maintenance of Honor 17 2 A Middle-Class Method: Building the Steel Frame of the Raj 79 3 Queen of the Earth: An Empire of Honor 129 4 The Bungalow: A Clearing in the Jungle 169 Conclusion: The Policeman’s Finger 209 Notes 215 Bibliography 249 Index 259
STEVEN PATTERSON is an Assistant Professor of History at Lambuth University, USA.