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

Against the Empire
Polity, Economy and Culture during the Anglo-Kuki War, 1917-1919

ISBN 9780367409982
Published July 13, 2020 by Routledge India
280 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book explores the Kuki uprising against the British Empire during the First World War in the northeast frontier of India (then the 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 chapters in this volume:

• Examine 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;

• Highlight 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;

• Interrogate themes of colonial geopolitics, 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 civilisational 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

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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).