Dr. Sebastian Pender (University of Cambridge)

The Commemoration and Memorialisation of the “Indian Mutiny”, 1857-2007

22 November 2017 – 22 February 2018

This research focuses on practices of commemoration conducted in colonial and postcolonial settings and furthers our understanding of how the past continues to live in the present, even as the present itself shapes the past. The current research is specifically concerned with the memorialisation of the so-called Indian “Mutiny” of 1857. Focusing on the (re)construction of physical sites of memory, as well as commemoration ceremonies conducted to mark anniversaries of the colonial conflict, this study interrogates the different ways in which the controversial events of 1857 have been memorialised over the course of one-hundred-and-fifty years. In so doing, this study contends that it is possible to identify a succession of distinct phases in which commemoration responded to contemporary concerns by shaping the events of 1857 from the perspective of the present. By charting shifts in what it has meant to remember 1857, this study demonstrates the extent to which memory is an inherently contingent process, rooted within the broader socio-political terrain which gives the past its meaning at a given historical moment. Specifically, it shows the extent to which the events of 1857 have always been in a state of becoming as the past is negotiated by successive generations living within the ever-changing present.


Sebastian Raj Pender received his PhD. in History from the University of Cambridge and holds degrees from Aberystwyth University, and the University of Oxford in International Relations, and Contemporary South Asia, respectively.