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The British Empire and Muslim Identity in South Asia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 February 2009

Francis Robinson
The Institute of Historical Research, London


British Empire in India saw major transformations in the identities of its Indian subjects. The growth of the modern state, the introduction of new systems of knowledge, the expansion of capitalist modes of production, and the spread of communications of all forms—railway, telegraph, post, press—made possible the fashioning of all kinds of new identities at local, regional and supra-regional levels. One of the identities which developed most strikingly was the Muslim. Indeed, at independence in 1947 it gained the particular accolade of embracing its own modern state in the shape of Pakistan. This political outcome, however, was just part of an extraordinary series of developments in Muslim identities under British rule which shed light not just on the nature of British rule but also on major changes at work in Muslim society.

Identities and Empires
Copyright © Royal Historical Society 1998

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