Supervised by Professors Maxine Berg and Rebecca Earle and funded by the ESRC, my PhD project titled, ‘Militaristic Masculinity, Material Culture and the Armies in India’- explores the lives and gender identities of British military men who served in India through the objects, weapons and uniforms that surrounded them.
In conjunction with the more jingoistic public attitude to empire that took hold in the nineteenth century, many British men in India embraced a militaristic form of masculinity that was closely linked to imperial adventuring and war. Cultural historians have, through the study of adventure novels, magazines and other forms of popular culture, comprehensively reconstructed this masculine ideal. However, there has been little research that explores how men embodied these identities, particularly in the case of military men.
Building on my BA and MA research on the consumption of war trophies from colonial India, I will explore how men in the British and Indian armies translated and negotiated this militaristic masculine ideal in everyday life. I will consider phenomena like looting, collecting and hunting, as well as studying war trophies, weaponry, campaign furniture and army uniforms, to explore how men curated militaristic gender identities, and to demonstrate how these were inevitably fractured and limited. I will also explore how men created homes and maintained relationships using material culture in the context of war. Despite a broad consensus that the army was integral to Anglo-Indian culture in the nineteenth century, the military has been largely neglected by the ‘new’ histories of empire. My project will integrate the study of military men and military material culture into the social and cultural histories of the British Empire, and thereby contribute to uniting the military and cultural histories of imperialism.
History of masculinity; social and cultural histories of the Indian army; Anglo-Indian material culture; material culture of war; fashion history; imperial and global history; public history and museum studies.
- 2016-2019- PhD in History, University of Warwick
- 2014-2016- MA in Global History, University of Warwick
- 2010-2014- BA (Hons) in History and Politics, University of Warwick
Papers and Publications
- 'Tactical Silences and Community Resistance: The Politics of Exhibiting Looted Objects in the UK Heritage Sector', (Difficult Heritage: Making Sense of Uncomfortable Histories, York, February 2018).
- ‘If the bachelor cannot manage his own household, how can he manage a mess or club?’: Homebuilding, Imperial Masculinity and the Armies in India, 1799-1900, (Colonial/Postcolonial New Researchers’ Workshop, Institute of Historical Research, February 2018).
- ‘I found myself quite at home on board a ship and fancied myself an adventurer’: The Crossing from England to India and the Development of British Colonial Identity, (Negotiating Waters: Seas, Oceans and Passageways in the Postcolonial Anglophone World, Université Grenoble Alpes, February 2018).
- 'Futures', (Amazing Women Historians and what they are doing with their lives, The University of Warwick, January 2018).
- 'Indian Army Uniforms, Marital Race Ideology and Colonial Power in Nineteenth Century India' (Interwoven: Dress that Crosses Borders and Challenges Boundaries, Association of Dress Historians, October 2017)
- '“India reveals a great deal that was before hidden’’: Women’s Experiences as ‘Military Wives’ in the Indian Army, 1757-1900'. (Women in Military History, National Army Museum, October 2017).
- ‘Loot, Plunder and the Circulation of Goods in Colonial India, 1799-1900’ (Video Workshop Universität Basel- The University of Warwick, ‘On Materiality and the Global: Between Local Trans-regional and Global Materiality’).
- 'My "Malfunctioning" Body: The pressures of Neoliberal Performativity on Postgraduate Students with Illnesses and Disabilities'. (Breaking Our Silences on the Neoliberal Academy: Facilitating Change from a Postgraduate Perspective, The University of Warwick, 26 October 2016)
- '"An English gentleman should always be dressed so that suddently dropped into Bond Street he would pass unnoticed": Army Uniforms and the Limits of British Masculine Ideals in Colonial India, 1799-1900'. (Sheffield Gender History Group, The University of Sheffield, 19 October 2016).
- 'Military Uniforms, Martial Race Theory and Militaristic Masculinity', (Warwick History Postgraduate Conference, 27 May 2016).
- 'Who's History, Who's Education? An Interrogation of The Role of Non-Academics as Educators in the Field of Global History', (Warwick Centre for Education Studies, May 2015).
- 'Masculinity and the Consumption of Asian goods in Eighteenth Century Britain', (Summer School in Transnational and Comparative History, European University Institute, September 2014).
- 'War Trophies and the Integration of Social and Military Histories of the English East India Company', (International Conference of Undergraduate Research-- the paper was live streamed to audiences at Singapore Management University and University of Western Australia, September 2014).
- 'Artist and Empire at the Tate Britain: A Sanitized Exploration of Britain's Imperial Past'. (Warwick Globalist, Summer 2016). Conferences and Projects
Conferences and Projects
Curating History: What happens when Historians and Curators are brought together?
The Curating History Workshop was an international project developed jointly by the European University Institute, in Florence, the CHAM – Research Centre, in Lisbon, and the Global History and Culture Centre at the University of Warwick, with a special collaboration from the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal College of Art, in London. My colleague Jo Tierney and I formed the Warwick contingent. The workshop took place in Florence in October 2017 and focussed on the relationship between curators and historians, and questioned how we can better collaborate to enrich the histories presented to the public in museums. Jo Tierney and I organised a session on "responsibility'' which asked: what is the responsibility of museums as public institutions and research centres in portraying history to the public, and how does this shared responsibility link curators and historians?
The Masculine Worlds of Race and Power: Objects, Practices and Emotions in Colonial and Post-Colonial Societies in the Long Nineteenth Century (forthcoming, May 2018)
This conference will bring together scholars from the fields of History, Gender Studies, English Literature and History of Art who are interested in the study of masculine identities and their implications for elite white men in nineteenth century colonial and post-colonial societies. Although historical narratives traditionally foregrounded white men as the ‘subject’ of colonial histories, recent studies by post-colonial, gender and new imperial historians have only recently begun to investigate these figures as ‘subjects’. The gender identities of white men have chiefly been explored solely through a focus on the representation of various hegemonic masculinities, with the lived experience of these men being overlooked.
The aim of this conference is to bring together scholars interested in focussing dually on the representation, and lived experience of elite white men, to investigate the relationship between hegemonic masculine ideals and the subjective experiences of the men who had to meet their social dictates. I am organising this conference with Liana-Beatrice Valerio, as part of our fellowship at the Humanities Research Centre, University of Warwick.
Public Engagement Activities
Exhibition: 'From Seringapatam to Stratford: The Treasures of Tipu Sultan'.
From February-June 2016 I curated an exhibition at Stratford Armouries Museum called, 'From Seringapatam to Stratford: The Treasures of Tipu Sultan'. The exhibition traced the history of the objects looted from Tipu Sultan by the British in the Siege of Seringapatam, 1799. In particular, it focused on Tipu arms and armour collected by the ex-curator of Stratford Armouries Museum, Robin Wigington. During the 1980s, Wigington amassed one of the largest single collections of objects associated with Tipu Sultan in existence and housed it at Stratford Armouries museum. The majority of the collection was sold after his death, but remains an important part of the museum's identity. My exhibition connected these two histories: the history of Tipu Sultan and British colonial looting, and the history of Robin Wigington's collection. By tracing the movement of objects from Seringapatam to Stratford, the exhibition aimed to demonstrate the connections between local and imperial history.
Public Lecture: 'Tipu Sultan's Treasures: Stratford's Imperial Connections'.
I gave a public lecture to mark the opening of the exhibition at Stratford Armouries Museum in July, 2016. It was attended by members of the public, as well as arms and armour specialists.
National Army Museum Community Engagement Volunteer
Since July 2017 I have been volunteering at the National Army Museum. I have been working on the 'India's Independence' project, and have been helping to plan and run workshops and events that reach out to South Asian communities across the UK.
Prizes and Awards
- The Society of Army Historical Research University Research Grant, 2017.
- Pasold Research Activity Grant, 2017.
- Royal Historical Society Research Award, 2017.
- Humanities Research Centre Doctoral Fellowship, 2017-2018.
- ESRC 1+3 Scholarship, 2014.
- Roger Magraw History Finalists Prize 2014.
- University of Warwick Undergraduate Research Scholarship Award, 2013.
Colonel Probyn. Oil on canvas, by James Rannie Swinton (1816-1888), 1867 (c). National Army Museum.
Embroidered Quiver, Arm Guards and Belt. Mysore, late 18th Century. Looted in the Siege of Seringapatam 1799. Picture courtesy of Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia