Historical maps

Project: Exception and emergency: British imperial governance in Asian frontier tracts

This historical project studies an economically and politically key region in Asia under the pressures of global empires, when the foundation for the latter nation-states took shape. It integrates the analyses of imperial frontier tracts, caused by British, Burmese and Qing Chinese expansions.

Although British rule was formed up to China’s borders in the late nineteenth century, certain territories remained labelled “frontier areas”. They were under a provisional mode of governance, long after military encounters had ceased. The “exceptional” turned into a practice. The project combines environmental and legal history, and crosses the Area Studies boundaries of South, Southeast and East Asia.

Image source

Project information

Project manager
Professor Gunnel Cederlöf
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University, Cambridge University (affiliation 2022-23)
Riksbankens jubileumsfond, RJ Sabbatical
1 Jan 2022–31 Dec 2023
History (department of Cultural Sciences, faculty of Arts and Humanities)

More about the project

There were simultaneously moving imperial frontiers of conquest, and a practice of the small polities turning into permanent frontier tracts under administrative exceptions. The project aims at establishing the British imperial pragmatic and provisional mode of operation, which depended on circumstance and place rather than on imperial principles or legal statutes.

The project combines and synthesises the results of two major research projects and contributes the necessary revision of imperial history by integrating the Northeast India-to-Yunnan region for the purpose of investigating governance under exceptional conditions. This is a spatial revision of the analytical field since it crosses the dominant Area Studies separations of South, Southeast and East Asia.

During 2022-23, Cederlöf is affiliated scholar to the Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, UK.

The project is part of the research in:
Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies

Top image source

Sir Charles Arbuthnot and staff, Mandalay 1887. Photographic Illustrations, with Description of Mandalay & Upper Burmah, Expeditionary Force, 1886-87. Birmingham: A. Pumphrey. 1887. Maps: H. Yule, 1857 and courtsey Sterling Library, New Haven.