Annexation and the Unhappy Valley

The Historical Anthropology of Sindh’s Colonization


Author: Matthew A. Cook
Annexation and the Unhappy Valley: The Historical Anthropology of Sindh’s Colonization addresses the nineteenth century expansion and consolidation of British colonial power in the Sindh region of South Asia. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach and employs a fine-grained, nuanced and situated reading of multiple agents and their actions. It explores how the political and administrative incorporation of territory (i.e., annexation) by East India Company informs the conversion of intra-cultural distinctions into socio-historical conflicts among the colonized and colonizers. The book focuses on colonial direct rule, rather than the more commonly studied indirect rule, of South Asia. It socio-culturally explores how agents, perspectives and intentions vary—both within and across regions—to impact the actions and structures of colonial governance.

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Matthew A. Cook, Ph.D (2007) in Sociocultural Anthropology, Columbia University, is Professor of South Asian and Postcolonial Studies at North Carolina Central University. His research focuses on the history and anthropology of South Asia, Sindh and colonialism. His previous publications include: Willoughby’s Minute: Treaty of Nownahar, Fraud and British Sindh (Oxford University Press, 2013), Observing Sindh: Selected Reports of Edward Paterson Del Hoste (Oxford University Press, 2008), and, with Michel Boivin, Interpreting the Sindhi World: Essays on Society and History (Oxford University Press, 2010).
' Annexation and the Unhappy Valley represents what can be achieved when anthropologists turn their critical inter-disciplinary eye on the past. [...] it contributes hugely to our collective grasp of a key turning-point in Sindh’s history, as well as offering historians additional theoretical models and approaches with which to enhance their own disciplinary methodologies.'
Sarah Ansari (Royal Holloway, University of London), in: South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, Online since 10 March 2017. URL:

'Today, only a few scholars can match Cook’s depth of knowledge when it comes to this, often overlooked, research field and his monograph is a crucial step for us to understand Sindh’s past and present. Notwithstanding somewhat technical parts, the author’s effort to link the plane of colonial decision making in the 19th century with the particular circumstances of the individual actors involved renders the book an intriguing read. In the Appendix, Cook speaks about this methodological decision when he emphasizes the importance of the “situatedness” of his historical sources. His historical-anthropological methodology (visible in the book’s title) not only allows deep insights into the protagonists’ complex life-worlds but also yields a capturing read.'
Jürgen Schaflechner (Heidelberg University), Itinerario, Vol. 42, No. 3 (2018), pp. 557-559, doi:10.1017/S0165115318000694
General Editor’s Foreword ... viii
A Note on the Spelling of Sindh ... xi
Cast of Characters and Glossary ... xii
Illustrations ... xvi
Acknowledgements ... xxiv

Introduction ... 1

1 Merchants and the East India Company in Sindh ... 21

2 Conspiracy and Military-Fiscalism ... 69

3 Just Governance and Colonial Violence ... 133

4 Court Over Board ... 180

Afterword ... 224

Appendix: Anthropology, Context and Archives ... 229
Bibliography ... 241
Index ... 255
This book will appeal to readers interested in the colonial history of South Asia and Sindh, as well as wider questions about empire building and indigenous responses to it.