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Penal Power and Colonial Rule provides an account of the distinctive way in which criminology developed outside the metropolitan centre. Proposing a radical revision of the Foucauldian thesis that criminological knowledge emerged in the service of a new form of power - discipline - that had inserted itself into the very centre of punishment, it argues that Foucault's alignment of sovereign, disciplinary and governmental power will, necessarily, need to be re-read and re-balanced to account for its operation in the colonial sphere. For, although the emergence of disciplinary power and its attendant forms of knowledge provided for key social transformations in the modernising metropolitan state, in colonial states power was almost exclusively sovereign and governmental (bio-political), with disciplinary strategies given only limited and equivocal attention.
In order to develop this argument, and give an account of the emergence of colonial criminology as a form of knowledge distinct from its metropolitan counterpart, this book provides an analysis of the key British colonial experience in India from the 1820s to the early 1920s. This analysis documents a colonial criminology, that was tied in crucial ways to the demands of colonial governance, whose birth can be placed fifty years or more before Lombroso or Ferri stepped upon the European stage: a criminology that developed its own unique modes of analysis, representation and measurement independent of metropolitan theory and practice. Drawing on postcolonial theory to ask whether we can speak of 'colonial modernity' or 'the colonial state' in the singular, it is, moreover, through the critical engagement of this analysis with Foucault's theoretical and historical account of the development of criminology that Penal Power and Colonial Rule opens up a new, and unduly negleted area of research.