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War & Military Culture in South Asia 1757-1947

The aim of this new academic historical series is to produce well-researched monographs on the armed forces of South Asia, concentrating mainly on the East India Company and the Indian armed forces from 1757 until 1947. Books in the series will examine the military history of the period as well as social, cultural, political and economic factors, although inevitably the armies of the East India Company and the Indian Army will dominate the series. In addition, edited volumes of conference papers, memoirs and campaign histories will also be published. It is hoped this series will be of interest to both serious historians and the general military history reader.

The foundation of the series coincides with the rise of academic interest in Indian military history over the last few years. In particular the series will contribute to the ‘new military history’ of South Asia. This came to prominence at an academic conference held in Cambridge in 1997 that was re-invigorated at two recent conferences held at the University of Greenwich and Jadavpur University, Kolkata in 2013-2014 with aim of ‘Re-newing the Military History of Colonial South Asia’. The aim of this series is to harness this explosion of interest and channel it into a series of ground-breaking volumes that add to the growing historiography of the period. For example in the field of Second World War studies and the period until Partition, Daniel Marston and Tim Moreman have spearheaded this historical research with their volumes: Phoenix from the Ashes: The Indian Army in the Burma Campaign (2003) and The Jungle, the Japanese and the Commonwealth Armies at War (2005). These are complemented by Raymond Callahan’s Churchill and His Generals (2007), a seminal work published in the United States that should be better known in the United Kingdom, and the wider study by Ashley Jackson on The British Empire and the Second World War (2006). Similarly there have been a number of relevant conferences such as one held at the Imperial War Museum in 2009, the papers of which were published as The Indian Army, 1939-1947: Experience and Development (2012). Daniel Marston’s The Indian Army and the End of the Raj (2014) has also recently been published.

This interest has been mirrored in India as eight volumes of the official histories of the Indian Armed Forces during the Second World War were reprinted in India in 2012 and another four in 2014. They were originally published between 1954 and 1960. As Squadron Leader Rana Chhina stated at the launch of the reprints: ‘As a resurgent India seeks to be a major player on the world stage, it behoves it to discard its narrow post-colonial world view, and to step up to reclaim the role that its armed forces played out on a global scale’ during the Second World War. Anirudh Deshpande’s A Spring of Despair: Mutiny, Rebellion and Death in India, 1946 will be published in 2015. Similarly Rana Chhina and the United Service Institution of India are organising a number of events for the centenary of ‘India and the Great War’, including a number of detailed academic studies in partnership with this series. It is envisaged that monographs will be published on the role of the Indian Army in all the major First World War theatres as well as other aspects of the war such as the Indian State Forces and an edited volume of essays. 

The series editors, members of the editorial advisory board and our publisher, Duncan Rogers of Helion, are all delighted to be involved in this series and we hope it will be of interest not only in the UK and India but globally, too.

Alan Jeffreys