The Historiography of Muslim ‘Conspiracy’
This section as a whole will explore the particular set of emphases that emerged in the representations by Indian Civil Service officers of Indian Muslims during the traumatic events of 1857–59. These representations will be examined in detail, first through the correspondence of Alfred Lyall (1835–1911), and then through a comparison of those writings with other ICS official accounts. Before proceeding to that discussion, however, the following two prefatory chapters will concern themselves with a reassessment of the historiography surrounding the extent of Indo-Muslim coordinated activity during 1857–59, and of British perceptions of Indian Muslims in the preceding half century. The central argument proposed in these chapters is that the events of 1857–59 established for the first time in Anglo-Indian discourse a rhetoric of potential pan-Indian Muslim disaffection with British rule. This emotive language was significantly at variance with Anglo-Indian intelligence reports at the time, yet neither the manner of its emergence, nor the tenacity with which it was maintained in the next half century, has ever adequately been explained. The emphasis here is on the novelty of such a perception in Anglo-Indian ideological constructions of IndoMuslim society, entailing as it did the violent conflation of a series of related but hitherto discrete elements.
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