Anglo-Indians and Eurasians in Literature and Film w/ Uther Charlton-Stevens

11 Mar 2023 – 19:00 HKT
Hong Kong International Literary Festival
Underground Theatre,
The Fringe Club
2 Lower Albert Road
Central Hong Kong

Join author Uther Charlton-Stevens at this year’s Hong Kong International Literary Festival where he will be in conversation with Paul French about his new book Anglo-India and the End of Empire.

The standard image of the Raj is of an aloof, pampered and prejudiced British elite lording it over an oppressed and hostile Indian subject population. Like most caricatures, this obscures as much truth as it reveals. The British had not always been so aloof. The earlier, more cosmopolitan period of East India Company rule saw abundant ‘interracial’ sex and occasional marriage, alongside greater cultural openness and exchange. The result was a large and growing ‘mixed-race’ community, known by the early twentieth century as Anglo-Indians.

Notwithstanding its faults, Empire could never have been maintained without the active, sometimes enthusiastic, support of many colonial subjects. These included Indian elites, professionals, civil servants, businesspeople and minority groups of all kinds, who flourished under the patronage of the imperial state, and could be used in a ‘divide and rule’ strategy to prolong colonial rule. Independence was profoundly unsettling to those destined to become minorities in the new nation, and the Anglo-Indians were no exception.

This refreshing account looks at the dramatic end of British rule in India through Anglo-Indian eyes, a perspective that is neither colonial apologia nor nationalist polemic. Its history resonates strikingly with the complex identity debates of the twenty-first century.

About the speakers

Uther Charlton-Stevens is a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and the author of Anglo-Indians and Minority Politics in South Asia. He earned his doctorate in history from the University of Oxford. Uther spent his childhood in colonial Hong Kong. Born in Ferozepore, his Anglo-Indian father grew up in Bangalore before migrating to England.

Historian Paul French was born in London and lived and worked in Shanghai for many years. He has contributed to many publications around the world, including the China Economic Quarterly and The Guardian and has written various books about China. His novel Midnight in Peking was a New York Times bestseller, and this and his most recent book, City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir are currently being developed as movies. He is a regular contributor of long-reads to the South China Morning Post weekend magazine and broadcasts often on RTHK3. He is currently working on a biography of the year that Wallis Warfield Spencer, later the Duchess of Windsor, spent in China (1924/1925) for publication in 2024.


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