New book by Michelle Gordon

2020-10-12

Analysing three cases of British colonial violence that occurred in the latter half of the 19th century, Michelle Gordon's Extreme Violence and the ‘British Way’: Colonial Warfare in Perak, Sierra Leone and Sudan argues that all three share commonalities, including the role of racial prejudices in justifying the perpetration of extreme colonial violence. 

Exploring the connections and comparisons between the Perak War (1875–76), the 'Hut Tax' Revolt in Sierra Leone (1898–99) and the Anglo-Egyptian War of Reconquest in the Sudan (1896–99), Gordon highlights the significance of decision-making processes, communication between London and the periphery and the influence of individual colonial administrators in outbreaks of violence. The study reveals the ways in which racial prejudices, the advocacy of a British 'civilising mission' and British racial 'superiority' informed colonial administrators' decisions on the ground, as well as the rationalisation of extreme violence. Responding to a neglect of British colonial atrocities within the historiography of colonial violence, this work demonstrates the ways in which Britain was just as willing and able as other European Empires to resort to extreme measures in the face of indigenous resistance or threats to the British imperial project.