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Islam and Colonialism

Intellectual Responses of Muslims of Northern Nigeria to British Colonial Rule


Muhammad Umar

This volume analyzes discourses on British colonialism constructed by Muslims of northern Nigeria c. 1903-1945. It departs from the conventional wisdom on British colonial policy of indirect rule and its “benign” consequences. Conceptualizing colonialism not simply as a unilateral imposition but as a dynamic encounter between colonizer and colonized, the book shifts the focus away from the overwhelming impact of the former and devastating consequences on the later, thereby revealing indeterminate outcomes and unintended consequences of both the actions of the colonizer and the reactions of the colonized. The volume analyzes legal treatises, poems, and novels, connecting authors to their intellectual backgrounds, relations to colonial regime and intended audiences, leading to better understanding of the ideas that informed Muslims’ intellectual and practical responses to colonialism.

Mohammad Shahabuddin

colonial discourse on indigenous peoples was the idea that backward communities cannot survive and progress towards modernity without the helping hand of the colonial rule. Thus, most British colonial policies governing indigenous communities in India, for example, were presented in protectionist terms

Peter Wien

forces. Toby Dodge’s book is a key contribution to this ongoing debate. “Inventing Iraq” is essentially a harsh criticism of British colonial policy in the country. Once more, he reveals that the Mandate concealed the application of a traditional British colonial paradigm on the newly founded kingdom


Anthony J. Farrington

British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950
India Office Political and Secret Files and Confidential Print

India Office Political and Secret Files and Confidential Print
In addition, significant material is included that will provide insights into diplomatic, governmental and intelligence missions and contacts of the three major powers involved (Britain, Russia and China). This release was preceded by the release of “The India Political Intelligence (IPI) Files, 1912-1950”.

Different imperatives
Much of the value of this collection lies in the way it shows how the three players on the British side – that is, the Government of India, the India Office, and the Foreign Office – grappled with different imperatives. The view from the British Embassy in Peking, and later from wartime Chungking, was frequently at odds with that from Delhi or the India Office. For decades, the British side juggled with the self-imposed conundrum that recognition of Chinese suzerainty should be conditional upon China’s recognition of Tibetan autonomy, while avoiding precise definitions of either concept. Meanwhile, Tibet went its own way in a semi-independent limbo, subject to varying degrees of British intervention and support channeled through Government of India officials at Gyantse and Gartok (in Sikkim), or latterly in its Lhasa Mission.

Historical status
The collection begins with Lord Curzon’s “forward policy” of 1903-04, which was designed to create a Tibetan buffer state against Russian influence - significantly, all this material was printed by the Foreign Office. Then follow negotiations to keep Russia at a distance, and the return of the 13th Dalai Lama to Tibet from China. There is extensive coverage of Tibet’s break with China after the 1911 Revolution, the subsequent Simla Conference of 1912, and the delimitation of Tibet’s borders.
One fascinating group of files details an attempt to turn four young Tibetans into a vanguard of “modernizers” through the medium of an English public school education. Another large group of files records the way in which access to Tibet was closely controlled by the British.

Internal affairs
Tibet’s internal affairs and British encouragement of de facto semi-independence during the 1920s and 1930s, led to a renewed concern for Chinese Nationalist claims during World War II. Particularly interesting from this period are the files on the “discovery” of the 14th (i.e., the present) Dalai Lama in 1937-39. The collection ends with the complete reversal following the Independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, and the Communist victory in China.

Provenance & historical background
All the files and related confidential print reproduced, form part of the papers of the Political & Secret Department in the India Office Records (with the exception of three items from the Military Department and its World War II offshoot, the War Staff – Fiche 29-35 and 299).
The files comprise a wide variety of papers received from the Government of India Foreign Department and other sources in India, and from the Foreign Office in London, together with India Office-generated minutes, comments, and replies. In 1982 the Foreign & Commonwealth Office transferred the administration of the India Office Library & Records to the British Library, where it now forms a part of the Library’s Oriental & India Office Collections.

A.J. Farrington, Former Deputy Director Oriental & India Office Collections, The British Library

This collection includes the sections:
Younghusband Mission to the Revolution, 1903-1912
Revolution in China, 1911-1915
Simla Conference and the 1914 Convention
Internal Affairs and Boundaries
Travellers and Entry Control
Trade, 1904-1949
Education for Modernisation, 1912-1947
14th Dalai Lama, WW II & Comunist China, 1933-1950

Madhavi Kale

its empire) of indentured Indians. Further, Seecharan notes, it continued to shape British colonial policy. Finally, he argues, intersecting with and crucially shaping these dynamics was (and is) the second formative myth: the invocation of “Mother India” by members of British Guiana’s small but

Ryan Whirty

, the author makes one point very clear: that British colonial policy did at least as much harm as good in north India. Of course, he notes, this is not unusual in human history. "Natural factors can induce dearth," he writes in the introductory chapter, "but it is human agency, more specifically the