Fragmented Sovereignty, Ḍakaitī (Banditry), and 'Criminal Tribe' in a 'Minor' State of Late Colonial India

Journal article


Godsmark, O. 2022. Fragmented Sovereignty, Ḍakaitī (Banditry), and 'Criminal Tribe' in a 'Minor' State of Late Colonial India. The Historical Journal. pp. 1-24. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X22000152
AuthorsGodsmark, O.
Abstract

Scholars have often considered twentieth-century sovereignty in colonial contexts as increasingly connected to the modern, territorially bounded state, stimulated by the influence of European rule. Yet there remained more malleable and amorphous sovereign configurations well into the twentieth century. Focusing on the case of Indore, a ‘minor’ state in late colonial central India, this article reveals the ongoing dynamism of ḍakait (‘bandits’) within such configurations. By approaching the state as a disaggregated entity, it captures how such communities held complex reciprocal relationships with local state representatives. These interactions challenge older histories, both in South Asia and beyond, that understand banditry primarily as evidence of state evasion or resistance, rather than reflecting an interlocking web of relational and gradated jurisdictions. By exploring connections between ḍakait and the state at the ‘everyday’ level, this article also takes issue with existing emphases on the wider institutional frameworks that classified such communities as ‘criminal tribes’. Such connections could engender local responses that undercut their ethnographic categorisation and complicate postcolonial critiques of the essentialisation of caste and ‘tribe’ in South Asia. Reconceptualising sovereignty ultimately provides us with a compelling analytic tool to reconsider wider scholarly axioms relating to colonial knowledge, marginality, and state-society relations.

Keywordssovereignty; banditry; criminal; tribe; india; colonialism; state
Year2022
JournalThe Historical Journal
Journal citationpp. 1-24
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISSN1469-5103
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X22000152
Web address (URL)https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/historical-journal/article/fragmented-sovereignty-dakaiti-banditry-and-criminal-tribe-in-a-minor-state-of-late-colonial-india/D94F065B5427959775C7507EC0B82596
FunderLeverhulme Trust
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online15 Aug 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted28 Jun 2022
Deposited30 Aug 2022
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https://repository.derby.ac.uk/item/97664/fragmented-sovereignty-d-akait-banditry-and-criminal-tribe-in-a-minor-state-of-late-colonial-india

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