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The Nehru Memorial Museum & Library


‘Petitioning and the Formation of Colonial Subjects in the Princely State of Manipur, 1891-1949’, 18th May, 2015.

‘Petitioning and the Formation of Colonial Subjects in the Princely State of Manipur, 1891-1949’

Mr. Deepak Naorem,
University of Delhi,


The paper attempts to study the qualitative changes in the nature of Manipur state after 1891 and also to address the formation of colonial subjects in the princely state. While expansion of the colonial state in the region is often associated with attempts of the colonial state to survey, fix and settle revenue payments, notion of colonial ‘subjecthood’ is associated with entering a fiscal or revenue arrangement with the colonial state. This paper departs from such approach. Borrowing much from anthropology of the state, the paper looks at the production of the colonial state in the everyday as well as negotiations of colonial ‘subjecthood’ in the everyday. Bureaucratic writing constitutes a very important state practice which produces the state in the everyday. It is through such practices that state wields its authority over the subjects and also how subjects negotiate with the state. After 1891, one particular type of bureaucratic writing became very popular in the princely state of Manipur. The paper argues that petitions and petitioning became the most popular method adopted to negotiate with the colonial state in Manipur. Hence, colonial ‘subjecthood’ was fashioned by certain state practices such as petitioning.


Mr. Deepak Naorem is pursuing his Ph.D from the Department of History, University of Delhi and teaches history in Miranda House, University of Delhi. His research interests includes the history of colonial northeast, history of Japanese invasion of Southeast Asia during the second world war, popular culture and history writing in Southeast Asia.

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