Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

Complex Past of Princely States in India: Transregional and Transborder Impacts of Local Actors of Princely State of Bahāwalpūr (1748-1947)

Dissertationsprojekt von Muhammad Waqas Mirza



A number of previous studies on native or princely states (nearly a third) of colonial India have identified local chiefs in a subsidiary alliance with the British colonisers; thus, partly fulfilled the gaps in our understanding of economy, governance and administration in British Empire that was spread across the globe. However, to explore these territories as separate entities that own a distinct social, cultural and political structure and their inter-connected past, largely remain understudied. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to re-examine the princely state of Bahāwalpūr (in north-west India), with focus on indigenous agency, power struggle among multi-ethnic local actors, and transborder economic trades and its impacts.

The governing system of princely state of Bahāwalpūr was far more complex than just the administrative divisions between the British Resident and the Nawābs (rulers) as it involved a hierarchy of power that included diverse ethnic clans and religious groups. There always remained intrastate power struggle among the top clans that in turn shaped the local and regional politics. Additionally, the role of the armed forces of the princely states in regional conflicts in working with the Government of India to defend or extend British colonial power from Taiwan to Japan to Malaya is also one of the understudied areas in the domain of imperial history.


Muhammad Waqas Mirza is currently enrolled as PhD candidate in the Department of South Asian Studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Previously, he obtained his M.A. in Muslim Cultures in 2018 from the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, London and prior to that he did BA in Political Science in 2016 from Forman Christian College, Lahore. His reading and research interests include colonial history, indigenous agency, transborder and transregional impacts of princely states in north-west India.