Against the Empire: Polity, Economy and Culture during the Anglo-Kuki War, 1917-1919, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Against the Empire

Polity, Economy and Culture during the Anglo-Kuki War, 1917-1919, 1st Edition

Edited by Ngamjahao Kipgen, Doungul Letkhojam Haokip

Routledge India

264 pages | 21 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367409982
pub: 2020-07-13
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This book explores the Kuki uprising against the British Empire during the First World War in the Northeast frontier of India (then Assam-Burma frontier). It sheds light on how the three-year war (1917–1919), spanning over 6,000 square miles, is crucial to understanding present-day Northeast India.

Companion to the seminal The Anglo-Kuki War, 1917–1919, the essays in this volume:

• Examines several aspects of the Anglo-Kuki war, which had far-reaching consequences for the indigenous Kuki population, including economy, politics, identity, indigenous culture and belief systems, and traditional institutions during and after the First World War itself;

• Highlights finer themes such as the role of the chiefs and war councils, symbols of communication, indigenous interpretation of the war, remembrance, and other policies which continued to confront the Kuki communities;

• Interrogates themes of colonial geo-politics, colonialism and the missionaries, state making, and the frontier dimensions of the First World War.

Moving away from colonial ethnographies, the volume taps on a variety of sources — from civilizational discourse to indigenous readings of the war, from tour diaries to oral accounts — meshing together the primitive with the modern, the tribal and the settled. This book will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of South and Southeast Asian Studies, area studies, modern history, military and strategic studies, insurgency and counterinsurgency studies, tribal warfare, and politics.

Table of Contents


Ngamjahao Kipgen and Doungul Letkhojam Haokip


Against the Empire’s Army

1. Resistance, War Council and Formation of Militia: The Role of Kuki Chiefs in the Anglo-Kuki War

Sheikhohao Kipgen

2. The Zou Gal (1917-19): A Military History with Special Reference to the Zou in Manipur-Chin Borders

S. Thangboi Zou


Colonial Politics and Violence

3. From Co-operation to Coercion: The Anglo-Kuki War as a Response to Changing British Geo-politics

David Hanneng

4. Empire of Violence: Colonial State Making and Frontier Violence during the Anglo-Kuki War

Robert Lunkhopao


Logistics, Economy and Livelihood Strategies

5. ‘Hunger Is More Savage Than Cannon’: Logistics during the Anglo-Kuki War

Doungul Letkhojam Haokip

6. Escape Agriculture, Foraging Culture: The Subsistence Economy of the Kukis during the Anglo-Kuki War

Thongkholal Haokip

7. Food Security, Ecology and Livelihoods: Examining ‘Agro-Political Strategy’ of the Kukis and the Anglo-Kuki War

Ngamjahao Kipgen


Cultural Symbols, Interpretation and The War

8. The Understanding Between Pre-Understanding and Work of Art: Interpreting Thingkhuo-le-Malcha in the Anglo-Kuki War


9. Colonialism and Khankho: Indigenous Reading of the Anglo-Kuki War

Hemkhochon Chongloi


Colonialism, Missionisation and After

10. Evangelisation and Colonialism: The Role of ‘Christianity’ in Anglo-Kuki War

Jangkholam Haokip

11. Spatialising The Missionary Encounter: Missionary Work and Space in the Aftermath of the Anglo-Kuki War

Hoineilhing Sitlhou and Ruth Nengneilhing


Commemoration of the war

12. ‘Their Tails are Not Down’: A Hundred Years of Remembering the Anglo-Kuki War

Jangkhomang Guite

About the Editors

Ngamjahao Kipgen is Associate Professor of Sociology at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, India. He was formerly with the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Institute of Technology Rourkela. His research interests lie at the intersection of ethnic identity politics, tribes and indigenous people; ethnicity and nationalism, borderland; dams, hydropower and development politics; political sociology and environmental sociology.

Doungul Letkhojam Haokip is Assistant Professor at the Department of History, Gauhati University, Assam, India. Formerly, he was at the Department of History, Don Bosco College, Maram Manipur, India. He is the author of Thempu Ho Thu (Priestly Charms of the Kuki) (2000) and editor of Documents of the Anglo-Kuki War 1917–1919 (2017).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / India & South Asia
HISTORY / Military / General
HISTORY / Military / World War I
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Customs & Traditions
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Indigenous Studies