Marginal Europeans In Colonial India: 1860-1920 – Sarmistha De


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Even as Victorian England sought means and methods to ‘manage’ its poor through new laws, the colonial rulers found the European poor in India a threat to the myth of superiority and homogeneity they were busy building up for the British ruling class back home. This study focuses on a particular section of European settlers in India, referred to in contemporary official papers as the ‘low Europeans’ or ‘mean whites’, phrases which loosely meant a white underclass comprising the destitute, vagrants, convicts, lunatics, and prostitutes. The study confines itself primarily to this European underworld in two major presidencies of colonial India, Calcutta and Bombay. The genesis of delinquency and marginality among Europeans in India, manifestations of the problem, debates among the ruling class about the problem, remedial measures taken by the administration as well as private initiatives, are all closely analyzed. First published in 2009, the volume contains facsimiles of rare documents and illustrations.

Sarmistha De is an Archivist at the State Archives of West Bengal, and has completed her PhD from Jadavpur University, Kolkata.


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