Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

4 - The King and His Lands: On the Reinterpretation of Kingship in the Early Colonial Western Himalaya

Friday, July 6
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Silveroak I, Ground Floor

The transition to modernity in Himachal Pradesh (India) entailed a radical reconfiguration of the relationship between sovereignty and territory. In the Rajput kingdoms of the lower hills, the confinement of state authority to rigidly bounded spaces disrupted anterior practices that had sustained kingly power, from armed incursions into neighboring territories to dynamic alliances with non-Rajput communities within and beyond a core region of control. As a result, monarchic powers and the institution of kingship itself were subjected to radical reconfigurations that were compounded by the phased expansion of the imperial frontier c. 1815-45. This talk explores how the redrawing of territories engendered a new interpretation of sovereignty and its impact on West Himalayan history and politics. By recourse to the contrastive examples of Bilaspur (on the imperial border, c. 1815-45) and Sirmaur (within British territory from 1815), it illustrates how these deeply intertwined polities came to represent polar examples of kingship by virtue of their location along the frontier, and how these representations contributed to the reconceptualization of 'the Rajput State' in modernity. 


 

Arik Moran

University of Haifa, Israel

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