Mass-Mediated Panic in the British Empire? Shyamji Krishnavarma’s ‘Scientific Terrorism’ and the ‘London Outrage’, 1909

  • Harald Fischer-TinéEmail author
Part of the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series book series (CIPCSS)


This chapter explores the ways in which panic could be instrumentalized to silence anti-colonial critics and justify draconic ‘counter-terrorism’ measures in the British Empire. Focusing on the assassination of a high-ranking colonial official in London in 1909, the chapter explores how clichés about Hindus as simultaneously cowardly and violent were used as part of a new rhetoric about colonial ‘terrorism’. The actual perpetrators of anti-imperial violence were dismissed as brainwashed or mentally unstable by government officials and the press. The subsequent need to find a ‘puppet master’ of the deluded activists led to the demonization of the political work of the Indian anti-colonial activist Shyamji Krishnavarma. In the wake of the panic over the ‘London outrage’, Krishnavarma, a sober rationalist with liberal leanings, was reduced by the media to a two-dimensional religious fanatic and demonic wire-puller, allegedly manipulating weaker minds into merciless killing.


Political Violence Indian Student Western Education Colonial Authority Explosive Substance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities, Social and Pol.Sc.ETH Zurich, Institut für GeschichteZürichSwitzerland

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