States of Exception? Sovereignty and counter-insurgency in British India, counter-insurgency in British India, Ireland and Kenya circa 1810-1960
This thesis is a comparative study of three different 'crises' of British foreign rule, spanning a 150-year period: circa 1810 to 1960. Arranged into three case studies, it surveys British encounters with Thuggee in early nineteenth-century India, the Irish Volunteers in early twentieth-century Ireland, and Mau Mau in mid-twentiethcentury Kenya. Each crisis was figured as an extra-ordinary threat to state sovereignty. In turn, extra-ordinary legal measures—'states of exception'—were introduced to try to suppress those seeking to contest or exit official claims of sovereignty over their lives. The intention of this thesis is closely to examine the three suppression campaigns in India, Ireland and Kenya in order to bring greater insight to the extent to which legal exceptions were foundational for British state sovereignty abroad in this period. The thesis engages deeply with the theoretical work of two scholars (in particular) who have done much to re-think the nature of European, but not colonial, state power and social control in the post-Enlightenment period: Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben. As well as situating its reconsiderations of the three crises in British India, Ireland and Kenya in the context of their theoretical insights, this thesis therefore seeks substantially to reappraise the work of Foucault and Agamben in colonial and foreign contexts. To do so, it draws on a wide range of primary material, including: parliamentary debates and papers, official correspondence, administrative reports relating to crime and policing, trial records, judicial statistics, fictional works, newspaper articles, contemporary journals and other periodicals, memoirs, diaries and private papers. The ambition is to produce a wide-ranging historical survey of the ways in which departures from the posited norms of the 'rule of law' have articulated diverse forms of state power and social control in three markedly different British-administered polities abroad, and, moreover, to assess to what extent these 'departures' can be understood as exceptional.