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Spatial Stories under Siege: British women writing from Lucknow in 1857

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Abstract:

The 5-month siege of the Lucknow Residency was one of the most significant conflicts of the Indian uprising in 1857-58. This article examines the diaries written by six British women during the siege, all of which were subsequently published. These diaries describe daily domestic life under siege and tell spatial stories of an imperial crisis on a domestic scale. Domestic and imperial disorder were intimately connected within the spatial confinement of life under siege at Lucknow. And yet, the diaries written by British women also chart the reinscription of domestic and imperial order. Most notably, although the first relief of Lucknow was unsuccessful in military terms, it can be read through the diaries written by women as providing some measure of domestic relief. Considering residency at Lucknow in its broadest sense, this article explores the spatial confinement of British women in the Residency compound, their unaccustomed servitude as their servants left at the beginning of the siege, and the domestic relief that helped British women to reinscribe the class differences that underpinned imperial regimental life.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09663690050130480

Publication date: 2000-09-01

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