Thursday, 24 September 2015

Thesis - The Eurasian Problem In Nineteenth Century India

Thanks to Jonathan Gentry in Toronto for the following. A thesis by Valerie E.R. Anderson entitled The Eurasian Problem In Nineteenth Century India, from the Department of History, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, is available online. Chapter 6 on Law and Marriage is especially of note. The thesis is well worth a read at

The following is the abstract:

The Eurasian problem in nineteenth century India was a question of their national identity. People of mixed European and Indian ancestry, were seen by the British as other than European but treated by them as other than Indian. First legal proscriptions and later social mores acted to maintain a barrier between the British and Eurasians but the separation was never complete. The British administration needed Eurasian labour and European men continued to seek Eurasian wives, pulling Eurasians into the sphere of British influence. At the same time, eager to define and preserve the Britishness of its presence in India, the government and European society pushed Eurasians away. Encouraged by the prospect of work to maintain a strong affiliation with British culture moulded through continued interaction and education, Christian and largely Anglophone Eurasians emerged at the end of the century othered again. In the minds of many Indians, the Eurasians, working primarily as government servants, were firmly associated with subjugation and colonial rule.

In colonial India poor or Indianised Eurasians were somewhat of a problem for the British who sought to legitimise their rule with an illusion of European superiority. In late colonial and independent India Anglo-Indians were sometimes perceived as another kind of problem; an unwelcome hang-over from the British Raj. Thus, both their Indian and their European heritage were problematic. A small population with neither political power nor wealth, Eurasians were stuck in a liminal zone between the coloniser and the colonised. As such they were caught up in and buffeted by colonial hegemony, nationalist demands, and the need to put bread or chapattis on their tables. This thesis explores the everyday realities of marriage and family, education and employment, and shows how Eurasian agency in choosing their own lifestyles and affiliations, was gradually eroded by the colonial state.


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1 comment:

  1. I am looking forward to reading this thesis.Hopefully it will help us be more aware about the people who left and the people who did not / could not leave and those remaining in pretty bad conditions now, stuck in the divide. Nigel