• Eastern Presence: Metropolitan responses to the Indian Army, 1914-15

      Grady, Tim; Ewence, Hannah; Dawson, Owen J. (University of Chester, 2021-08)
      The mobilisation of the British empire during the First World War created new spaces for encounter between British and Indian society. Between August 1914 and December 1915, the Indian army dispatched over 100,000 Indian servicemen to the Western Front as part of Indian Expeditionary Force A. The thesis’s objective is to improve understanding of how Western and, more specifically, British society responded to the presence of these Indian servicemen. It reconsiders British perspectives of the Indian solider, reflects upon how these perspectives impacted the discourse which surrounded the sepoys, and the effect it had on the Indian army’s colonial hierarchy. As a result, ‘Eastern Presence’ furthers understanding of British conceptions of racial identity and colonialism within the context of the First World War and demonstrates the impact that these conceptions had on the Indian army’s hierarchical structure. To achieve this goal, the thesis uses the geographical and locational settings experienced by Indian servicemen during their stay in Western Europe to analyse their interactions with various parts of British and Western society. Through its analysis of these interactions, ‘Eastern Presence’ challenges much of the existing historiography by arguing that variances in conceptions of race can be identified, depending on the part of British society which experienced the encounter. It consequently concludes that British society demonstrated varying degrees of knowledge, empathy, and perception towards the colonial ‘other’ in its midst.