Vice in the Barracks

Medicine, the Military and the Making of Colonial India, 1780–1868

  • Erica Wald

Part of the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series book series (CIPCSS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Erica Wald
    Pages 1-15
  3. Erica Wald
    Pages 190-195
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 196-273

About this book


Shortlisted for the 2014 Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize and the 2014 Templer Award for the Best First Book by a New Author.

Sex and alcohol preoccupied European officers across India throughout the nineteenth century, with high rates of venereal disease and alcohol-related problems holding serious implications for the economic and military performance of the East India Company. These concerns revolved around the European soldiery in India – the costly, but often unruly, 'thin white line' of colonial rule. This book examines the colonial state's approach to these vice-driven health risks. In doing so it throws new light on the emergence of social and imperial mindsets and on the empire, fuelled by fear of the lower orders, sexual deviation, disease and mutiny. An exploration of these mindsets reveals a lesser-explored fact of rule – the fractured nature of the Company state. Further, it shows how the measures employed by the state to deal with these vice-driven health problems had wide-ranging consequences not simply for the army itself but for India and the empire more broadly. By refocusing our attention on to the military core of the colonial state, Wald demonstrates the ways in which army decision-making stretched beyond the cantonment boundary to help define the state's engagement with and understanding of Indian society.


Colonial history Medical history India Empire Soldiers Law and Order East India Company reform

Authors and affiliations

  • Erica Wald
    • 1
  1. 1.GoldsmithsUniversity of LondonUK

Bibliographic information