The panel explores the rhetoric and practice of political violence and revolutionary terrorism in late colonial India and analyses the reaction of colonial officials and western media.
From the initial rise of Indian revolutionary terrorism in the 1890s until the end of the Raj, British policies in India were often shaped by fears of Indian 'plots' and 'conspiracies' or outbursts of 'native violence'. The proposed panel explores the various challenges and threats, both real and imagined, that emanated from the activities of anti-colonial revolutionary nationalists in India and abroad, and analyzes the reactions of colonial and metropolitan authorities. Some contributions reconstruct the pre-history of British anxieties about Indian violence, while others examine various strategies that evolved to counter the perceived terrorist threat in the period under survey, such as legal innovations, policing, the creation of new technologies of identification and surveillance, and the establishment of intelligence institutions exclusively concerned with counter-insurgency. Special emphasis is laid on the activities of diasporic Indian 'terrorists' who led their crusade against British imperialism outside the bounds of British India. Their frequent cooperation with other European, American and Asian discontents of the imperial world order, such as Russian anarchists or Irish Fenians, built horizontal alliances that created particularly intense anxieties among British observers. Lastly, the discursive construction of what constituted a terrorist threat not only in official documents and newspaper reporting but also in popular culture is put under scrutiny.