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Dutta, Simanti (1991) Strategy and Structure: A Case Study in Imperial Policy and Tribal Society in British Baluchistan, 1876-1905. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis intends to explore the relation of tribe and empire in Baluchistan, as an interaction of distinct political entities, and also as an experimental confrontation between the opposed social and cultural norms associated with imperialism and tribalism. The discussion will start with a preliminary definition of tribal society in chapter one. This introductory section will also trace the evolution of local political structures in the historical context of tribal strategies to secure resources and capture local power, and the early influence of imperial forces in particular those of Persia, Afghanistan and British India in re- aligning tribal politics within the matrix of external empires, culminating in the creation of the British Baluchistan Agency of 1876, which set the larger historical framework for subsequent political patterns and trends. The second chapter will explore the imperatives of the British imperial involvement in Baluchistan, and the interlocking of the politics of the Great Game in Asia during the nineteenth century with local tribal factors, which led to significant territorial restructuring of tribal homelands, at the expense of tribal ethnicity, and old established patterns of political linkages. Internally for Baluchistan, the process of imperial penetration entailed the political and administrative encapsulation of a tribal society by an external and higher political power. Consequently Baluchistan became the political meeting ground for cultural norms fostered in contrasting social milieux. The tribal aspect of this equation is discussed in the third chapter in terms of group identity, social exchange, and material assets, which sponsored a culture of conflict intrinsic to Baluchistan society. In imperial ideology, tribal turbulence was incompatible with political control and stable government. Thus the fourth chapter sets out to explore official British strategies designed to remould tribal society in the colonial image of order and stability, and assesses the reaction of tribes to this external manipulation of their social order. The fifth chapter concentrates on the economic aspect of imperial penetration, by studying the impact of British revenue policy on tribal land structures, levels of rural income, and their adequacy for material survival. This will be followed by a concluding section, dissecting the balance sheet of empire in Baluchistan, to see if the intrusion was merely an exercise in the strategic restructuring of a military frontier, or a catalyst as well for new role definitions in tribal society, and altered social perceptions.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:20

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