‘A Hazardous Experiment’: the First World War and changing British civilian and military attitudes to the people of India

Leenders, Karen (2018) ‘A Hazardous Experiment’: the First World War and changing British civilian and military attitudes to the people of India. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis extends the current scholarship of the social impact of the First World War by analysing the influence of the contribution of the Indian soldiers on the Western Front on civilian and military perceptions of Indian people and how this varied between those who encountered Indian soldiers in person and those who did not. The work sits on the historiographical boundary of the First World War, Empire and the social history of Britain in the post war years and makes use of newspapers, first person accounts and manuscript sources.
The impact upon the civilian population is analysed by examining the manner in which Indian people were represented in the media in the years before the war and comparing this with later representations in the years during and after the war. The work of Porter and Mackenzie and the ongoing debate about the significance of the Empire to the British people is used to ground the argument. The thesis finds that, despite an increased awareness and interest in India and its people during the war, the public soon settled into a pre-war apathy towards its Empire.
The military chapters briefly examine the history of the Indian Army and its time in France and the changes made by the British Army to facilitate the service of the Indian soldiers in Europe. It discusses the negative view of the Indian Corps which has been perpetuated by historians during the twentieth century and provides contradictory arguments against a number of these assertions.
The thesis concludes that, while the Indian Corps’ time in France positively impacted on British civilian and military opinion of Indian people, those who directly encountered them formed the most favourable views.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > History
Subjects: D History > DA History of Great Britain > DA010.5 British Empire. Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2018 08:34
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:48
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/78272

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