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Book Reviews

Vol. 2 (2022)

Review of The Frontier in British India: Space, Science, and Power in the Nineteenth Century by Thomas Simpson

  • Nokmedemla Lemtur

    Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Georg-August-Univerität Göttingen
March 2, 2022


It is often difficult to comprehend the peripheries of British India in the nineteenth century with its changing boundaries through various form of entanglements and the scale of the mountainous landscape that is peopled with numerous communities with their own internal structures, cultures and histories. The Frontier in British India brings together the regions – the north-western and north-eastern frontiers, which are at the longitudinal ends of the Indian subcontinent which share similarities and sometimes differences through the colonial state’s efforts in territorial expansion and control. Through an extensive dive into the colonial archives, Simpson stiches together the intricate and often overlapping workings of the officials at the frontiers to present the complicated history of colonial expansion and rule in the two regions. Divided into five chapters that delineate five modes, often intricately entwined, through which the colonial state makes inroads at the frontiers, Simpson explores the concept of “colonial exceptionality” in these regions and the personalities that encouraged this.