This introductory chapter examines the terminology of subordination including ‘paramountcy’, ‘protection’, ‘subsidiary alliance’, ‘indirect rule’, and ‘collaboration’, drawn mainly from British experience in India and Africa. The advantages of adopting a patron-client model derived from anthropological work on clientage in segmentary societies and patrimonial states are contrasted with older terms in imperial history. Semantic debate aside, it became clear by the 1980s that a bridge between administrative history and the dynamics of political clientage was already available in the case of Indian history to explain the transformation of the Indian Mughal empire and its successor states under pressure from Europeans. Indian historiography has moved between two images of empire — British and Indian — towards a greater synthesis with less on justification and administrative categories and more on the exercise of power at lower levels. That example can be applied elsewhere in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific.
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