Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

The Politics of Colonial Governance: Ideologies and Practices of European Settlement in India, 1765-1857

Despina Iliopoulou.

The paper argues that the East India Company (EIC)was quite successful in checking any encroachment on its political existence in India by resisting actual involvement of British institutions in the governing in India. This is reflected on the position of the EIC on the question of British Settlement. Allowing British settlers in India could have had serious repercussions for the type of state the EIC's policies were designed to establish: a state which could effectively promote its interests by excluding any other partners in the sharing of political power. The presence of settlers in India would have led to the formation of a British class structure, and a rival political structure, which the EIC would have had difficulties dealing with. Since preventing European settlement proved a difficult task, the EIC was very successful in minimizing its impact by controling it.The means of doing so ranged from restructuring the colonial legal system to the deployment of discourses aiming to undermine the credibility and desirability of the settlers and, at the same time legitimize policies designed to allow a small number of settlers in India, keep them away from the interior of the country, subject them to constant surveillance, and deny them property rights.
In examining the processes that shaped the policy on colonial settlement, the paper links settlement to the formation of the colonial state and the nature of colonial rule; it raises questions about the "colonizer" as the bearer of generalized and undifferentiated British interests; and it draws attention to the complexity of the fragmentary nature of colonial interests. It also raises questions about the theoretical relevance of historical research for contemporary immigration practices.


Despina Iliopoulou  (Canada)
Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology
University of Saskatchewan

  • East India Company
  • European Settlement
  • State Formation
  • Colonial Governance
  • Ideology
  • Discourse
  • Law

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)