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Complicit Colonials: Border Scots and the Indian Empire, c. 1780-1857

Filor, ES; (2014) Complicit Colonials: Border Scots and the Indian Empire, c. 1780-1857. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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This thesis examines several interconnected families from the Scottish Borders who served in the East India Company between 1780 and 1857. Utilising the letters, diaries and wills of the members of these families, I present an ‘intimate’ history of Company service. Asserting the complex and multifarious connections of the eighteenth and nineteenth-century Borders with India scotches the perception of the area as essentially parochial. Starting with the poetry of Walter Scott, chapter one advances an argument for a distinctive Border identity that was based on an appeal to the medieval Anglo-Scottish Border conflicts. Company service offered Border Scots the chance to enact this identity (often violently) in India. Chapter two suggests the centrality of hunting in maintaining connections to Scotland while in India. Instead of focussing on the phenomenon of ‘big game’ hunting, I suggest the importance of ‘marginal’ game and hunting landscapes. Taken together, these two chapters argue that the Border landscape, both physical and imaginative, was integral to sustaining Company service for the families under examination. The third chapter ‘blackens’ the Borders by examining the lives of mixed-race children brought ‘home’ to Scotland and the institutions that educated them. Chapter four asserts the central role played by unmarried women in sustaining imperial service in the Borders through educating their nephews and younger brothers for a career in empire and by ‘improving’ the family estate for their absent brothers. The fifth chapter ventures into the interiors of the houses these men built on their return. Analysing the objects they furnished their houses with offers insight into how material goods, often quotidian, structured responses to imperial service. Looking to the networks of people, objects, buildings, landscapes and animals connecting the Scottish Borders to India, this thesis places this rural area of Scotland in a global context.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Complicit Colonials: Border Scots and the Indian Empire, c. 1780-1857
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > SHS Faculty Office
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1451798
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