Poor Relations: The Making of a Eurasian Community in British India, 1773-1833
As early as the 1830s Eurasians (later called Anglo-Indians) of British birth already exceeded the number of British civilians in colonial India. At the time of India's independence they outnumbered all British residents. Yet there has been little historical attention to the development of this mixed-race community, the problems which it faced (social, economic and attitudinal) nor to the questions which its rise posed to British authority. Sometimes these were hypothetical. Could, for instance a large mixed-race population of British descent cause political danger to British interests in India as had the colonists of America? Other questions raised by a fast growing mixed-race population which identified closely with its British fathers were practical. How to educate and to employ them? Were they to be treated as British or Indians?
The sixty years between 1773 and 1833 determined British paramountcy in India. Those years were formative too for British Eurasians. By the 1820s Eurasians were an identifiable and vocal community of significant numbers particularly in the main Presidency towns. They were valuable to the administration of government although barred in the main from higher office. The ambition of their educated elite was to be accepted as British subjects, not to be treated as native Indians, an aspiration which was finally rejected in the 1830s.
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Dr. Christopher Hawes is the author of Poor Relations: The Making of A Eurasian Community in British India 1773-1833. A graduate of St John's College, ...
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