Cawnpore, Kipling and Charivari: 1857 and the politics of commemoration.
Literature and History, 18(2),
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This paper examines the politics of commemoration in colonial India, and the notorious massacres of Europeans at Cawnpore (and subsequent reprisals) during the 1857 rebellion. Drawing on Giorgio Agamben’s work I suggest that changing colonial practices of Mutiny remebrance reveal the organising logic of colonial sovereignty, as it negotiates the transition from the exceptional (potentially scandalous) violence of counter-insurgency to the sovereign paradigm of the rule of law. I conclude by examining Kipling’s journalism on the 1857 rebellion, and tracing the persistence of ‘mournful’ tropes of social exclusion and ritualised banning (as charivari) in his short fictions.
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