Cons, Jason G.
In this thesis, I examine the discursive construction of colonial state space in the context of British India's turn of the century North-West Frontier. My central argument is that notions of a uniform state space posited in official theorizations of the frontier need to be reexamined not as evidence of a particular kind of rule, but rather as a claim to having accomplished it. Drawing on new colonial historiographies that suggest ways of reading archives and archival documents for their silences and on historical sociological understandings of state-formation, I offer close readings of three different kinds of documents: writing about the North-West Frontier by members of the colonial administration, annual general reports of the Survey of India, and narratives written by colonial frontier officers detailing their time and experience of "making" the frontier. I begin by looking at the writings of George Nathanial Curzon and others attempting to theorize the concept of frontiers in turn of the century political discourse. Framed against the backdrop of the "Great Game" for empire with Russia and the progressive territorial consolidation of colonial frontiers into borders in the late 19th century, these arguments constitute what I call a "colonial theory of frontiers." This theory simultaneously naturalizes colonial space and presents borders as the inevitable result of colonial expansion. This theorization, I argue, is particularly important to reexamine as it operates on a set of assumptions that have been adopted into social science notions of territory. These assumptions take space as "given" and static as opposed to fluid, contingent, and contested. I explore this late colonial theory of frontiers as "claims" to territorial rule by looking at the discourse of cartography in the context of the North-West Frontier. Cartography, like colonial frontier theory, posits a uniform state space where the boundaries of rule are neatly demarcated by borders. A closer examination of maps along the North-West Frontier, however, suggests that processes of territory making in this region neither conform to simple notions of cartographic demarcation nor to colonial frontier theory more generally. Finally, I suggest that these spaces are better understood as zones of negotiation and state formation where claims of colonial territorial integrity are anything but certain. Such an understanding of territory displaces approaches that tacitly designate places as either state or non-state and demonstrates that claims to territorial control must always be understood in the context of the contingent, contested, and negotiated claims for making space into place.
India; Sociology; Colonialism; Space; North-West Frontier; Historical
dissertation or thesis