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Networks of DominationThe Social Foundations of Peripheral Conquest in International Politics$
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Paul MacDonald

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199362165

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199362165.001.0001

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“The Pressure of Insupportable Evils”

“The Pressure of Insupportable Evils”

Social Ties and the Conquest of India

Chapter:
(p.78) Chapter 3 “The Pressure of Insupportable Evils”
Source:
Networks of Domination
Author(s):

Paul K. Macdonald

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199362165.003.0004

This chapter explores the case of British conquest in India at the turn of the nineteenth century. It argues that the capacity of the British to overwhelm Indian resistance was not simply a function of the superior technology or skill of its military forces, but the capacity of the British to exploit ties with local intermediaries as well as fragmentation within Indian states. In particular, dense social ties with local Indian elites allowed the East India Company to raise and supply sizable armies, to cultivate a subcontinent-wide network of intelligence assets, and to develop narratives that legitimated imperial expansion in the eyes of local populations. Moreover, fragmentation within Indian states, especially among different classes of local elites, inhibited the organization of coherent resistance to British expansion. In this respect, India is a paradigmatic case of local collaboration and fragmentation conspiring to help facilitate peripheral conquest.

Keywords:   India, conquest, East India Company

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