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Presidential Address: “I Have Scinde”: Flogging a Dead (White Male Orientalist) Horse

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 March 2010


Let me begin with a story about General Sir Charles James Fox Napier, who was born in 1782 and in 1839 was made commander of Sind (or Scinde, as it was often spelled at that time, or Sindh), an area at the western tip of the Northwest quadrant of South Asia, directly above the Rann of Kutch and Gujurat; in 1947 it became part of Pakistan. In 1843, Napier maneuvered to provoke a resistance that he then crushed and used as a pretext to conquer the territory for the British Empire. The British press described this military operation at the time as “infamous” (the Whig Morning Chronicle, cited by Napier 1990, 197), a decade later as “harsh and barbarous” and a “tragedy,” while the Indian press (the Bombay Times, “without a shred of evidence”) accused Napier of perpetrating a mass rape of the women of Hyderabad (Napier 1990, xvi). The successful Annexation of Sind made Napier's name “a household word in England. He received £70,000 as his share of the spoils” (Mehra 1985, 496–97) and was knighted. In 1851 he quarrelled with James Ramsey, the Marquess of Dalhousie (governor general of India from 1847 to 1856), and left India. In 1844, the following item appeared in a British publication in London, under the title, “Foreign Affairs”:

Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 1999

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