Empire and locality: a global dimension to the 1857 Indian Uprising

Marina Carter, Crispin Bates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The Indian Uprising of 1857-59, during which thousands of Indian soldiers serving in the British army mutinied, joined by many civilians, led to the identification of a vast number of 'rebels' and discussions as to the most appropriate means of punishing them. The wholesale transportation of insurgents was considered a likely scenario in the charged atmosphere of late 1857. The uprising coincided with dramatic increases in the world market price for sugar, prompting British colonial producers to extend cultivation of cane and their political agents to suggest that the need for further plantation labour be met from among the likely Indian convict transportees. The empire-wide response to the events in India during 1857-59 is assessed in this article as an interesting case study of both reactions to a sensationalist news story and the manner in which British officials, keen to exploit the outcome of the revolt and to manipulate the labour market to the advantage of their respective colonies, competed with and contradicted one another. At the same time, the authors contend that arguably the more interesting aspects of the relationship between the Indian Uprising and the surge in numbers migrating to the sugar colonies were either neglected or carefully ignored by policy makers and commentators alike at the time, and have scarcely been investigated by historians since. The article suggests that many individuals who participated in the insurgency in India did indeed make their way overseas, quietly ignored, and only mentioned in subsequent decades when 'scares' about mutineer sepoys in their midst were raised in the colonial press as explanation for strikes and labour agitations on colonial sugar estates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-73
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Global History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2010


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