Campus: Waterloo
Office: PAS 2402
Email: dpeers@uwaterloo.ca

The question that initially inspired my graduate work in history is how the British managed between 1750 and 1850 to gain political and economic control in much of India yet almost lose it between 1857 and 1858. I have also been taken up with the challenge of explaining the paradox between a domestic political economy in Britain that was  increasingly oriented to the principles and ideologies of liberal capitalism and the unfolding conservative and autocratic characteristics of colonial rule in India. In seeking answers to these questions, my work has often focused on tracing how and why military influences penetrated imperial structures, cultures and ideologies.

Educ​ation

  • B.A. (Hon) Political Science, History minor, University of Calgary, 1982
  • M.A. History, University of Calgary, 1984
  • Ph.D. History, University of London (King’s College), 1988

Research and teaching interests

  • British Empire
  • India since 1700
  • Britain since 1750
  • Transnational/global history
  • Historiography

Key areas of graduate supervision

British Imperialism, especially the history and historiography of colonial rule in 18th and 19th century South Asia

Current projects

I am currently working on three distinct yet related projects which address aspects of the relationship between the military and state formation, consolidation and commemoration in mid-19th century India.

  • The Siege of Lucknow: Histories, Memories, and Myth-Making
  • Discipline and Publish: Military Law and Labour Management in a Hybrid Army, 1820-1860
  • Medical Topography, Military Imperatives and Colonial Authority in India, 1830-1850

Selected Publications

With Nandini Gooptu, India and the British Empire.  The Oxford History of the British Empire Companion SeriesOxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

“Army Discipline, Military Cultures, and State Formation in Colonial India, ca.1780-1860”, in Huw Bowen, Elizabeth Mancke, and John Reid, eds., Britain’s Oceanic Empire: Atlantic and Indian Ocean World, c.1550-1850, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, 282-308.

“Military Revolutions and South Asia,” in Wayne E. Lee, ed., Imperial-Indigenous Military Relations in the Early Modern Era¸ New York: NYU Press, 2011, 81-108.

“The more this foul case is stirred, the more offensive it becomes’: Imperial Authority, Victorian Sentimentality and the Court Martial of Colonel Crawley, 1862-1864”, in Sameetah Agha and Elizabeth Kolsky, eds., Fringes of Empire: Peoples, Places, and Spaces at the Margins of British Colonial India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009.

“Gunpowder Empires and the Garrison State:  Modernity, Hybridity and the Political Economy of Colonial India, ca.1750-1860”, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 27(2007): 245-258.

“The Raj’s Other Great Game: Policing the Sexual Frontiers of the Indian Army in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century,” in Anupama Rao and Stephen Pierce, eds., ed., Discipline and the Other Body: Correction, Corporeality, Colonialism, Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2006. 115-50.

India Under Colonial Rule: 1700–1885, London: Longman, 2006.

“Colonial Knowledge and the Military in India, 1780-1860,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 33(2005): 157-180.