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Ruling the Savage Periphery

Ruling the Savage Periphery

Tue, 15 Mar 2022 18:30 - 20:00 Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0)

Tickets (£5) here.

Zoom lectures presented by The British in India Historical Trust. This month’s speaker is BENJAMIN D. HOPKINS.

About this event


Benjamin D. Hopkins

This talk considers how the system of frontier rule developed by Robert Sandeman, head of the Baluchistan Agency, to govern the unruly tribes of the Afghan frontier was exported to Mesopotamia, Palestine, Nigeria and elsewhere by British administrators in the course of their imperial careers.

Similar systems were developed in the US and Argentina, and Ben Hopkins explores how colonial powers learnt from each other to draw borders that placed indigenous people just on the edge of the interior. Too nomadic and communal to incorporate, their labour was too valuable to displace.

Today’s failed states along the margins of the international system—states riven by terrorism and violence—are not dysfunctional anomalies. Rather they work as imperial statecraft intended, harbouring the outsiders whom stable states simultaneously encapsulate and exploit.

Benjamin D. Hopkins is the author of Ruling the Savage Periphery: Frontier Governance and the Making of the Modern State (Harvard University Press 2020). He is Professor of History and International Relations and Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at George Washington University. He was awarded the Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize 2022 from the Association of Asian Studies for Ruling the Savage Periphery. The Prize ‘honors a distinguished work of scholarship in South Asian Studies that promises to define or redefine the understanding of whole subject areas’.

The talk will be recorded.

This is a paid event.

General Admission: £5.00

Additional donation (optional) to promote scholarship by funding essay and book prizes for excellence in historical writing on the British in South Asia between 1600 and 1947: £1 suggested

Please contact the organiser if you would like to attend the lecture but are experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic. Or if you have any queries.

Hurst and Cambridge Scholars have offered attendees at the lecture on 18 January a 25% discount on The Last King in India: Wajid Ali Shah and The Estate of Major General Claude Martin at Lucknow . Hurst has offered attendees at the lecture on 16 February a 25% discount on Peace, Poverty and Betrayal. Discount codes will be given in the emails containing the Zoom links.


‘His most expansive project yet, tracing the global diffusion of frontier governing practices from northwest India, to South Africa, to the American west, and finally Argentina . . . An eminently readable book that balances its theoretical and conceptual contributions with truly ground-breaking insight into the globalization of frontier governmentality.’ — Martin J. Bayly, Critical Asian Studies

‘An outstanding book, with an original and clearly articulated argument well supported by evidence from an impressive array of archives around the world. Informed by the logic of empire and capitalism, frontier governmentality locked those at the margins of empire into a relationship of dependency with no prospect for economic betterment. Hopkins tells a gripping story well. His provocative contention that violence created colonial empires but sustains postcolonial states ought to stir up debate.’ — Ayesha Jalal, author of The Struggle for Pakistan: A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics

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