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The Mutiny and Rebellion of 1857: A Race War?

The rising of 1857 is one of the most written about episodes in India’s colonial history: it is seen as a sepoy revolt, a proto-nationalist insurgency and a peasant uprising. Perhaps surprisingly the racial aspects of the revolt have received less attention: why? Does 1857 serve to show the strength of underlying racial feelings (on both sides?) or did it do more to accentuate and consolidate racial antipathies?

There are accounts of 1857 and its impact in such works as Bolt [3], Kiernan [11] and Metcalf’s Ideologies of the Raj [61]. More suggestive perhaps are Dalrymple’s book, The Last Mughal [37], about the last King of Delhi, Paxton’s article on ‘Mobilizing chivalry’ [67] and especially Mukherjee’s ‘Satan’ article [64].