privacy policy

Colonial Governmentality and the Structuring of State Spaces: Re-Examining British Justifications for the Hindusthan-Tibet Road


· Tania Kar Department of Cultural Studies, the English and Foreign Languages University (Hyderabad, India, India)


07/29 | 09:20-09:40 UTC+2/CEST


The Hindusthan-Tibet Road is one of the earliest known colonial infrastructural interventions in the north-western Himalayan Region. This project can be situated at the cusp of administrative changes in the Indian colony- from being ruled by the East India Company to being brought under the direct administration of the Imperial state. This also meant a transition in colonial administrative rationality- from a purely mercantile logic of imperialism to a more liberal governmentality, reflected in some of the justifications for the building of the Hindusthan-Tibet Road. With the conceptualization of Indian colonial subjects as a population, surveying both land and people became important knowledge production activities for the colonial state. These projects relied heavily on the ability of the colonial state to make inroads into previously unexplored regions. Simultaneously, with infrastructural interventions at the level of physical space, especially through road building projects, the possibility of politicizing the environment became apparent. Taking the spatial imperatives of sovereign and disciplinary forms of power from Foucault, my study has engaged with questions of colonial governmentality by situating the Hindusthan-Tibet Road as a point of departure.