Comparing the colonial state - Governing "the social" and policing the population in late 18th century India and Denmark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Against the grain of the paradigmatic postcolonial analytics of the colonial state, this chapter presents a non-dichotomous comparison of two regimes within the late 18th century Danish empire, which are commonly presumed to be of essentially different kinds - namely the colonial state in Tranquebar in South East India and the metropolitan government of rural Danish society. By focusing, firstly, on practices of policing and, secondly, on the general technology of power that targeted these significantly different socio-political spheres, it is argued that these regimes were governing according to similar strategies: seeking, on one hand, to deploy societal mechanisms of self-regulation and, on the other, to provide a balance and order to the otherwise chaotic forces of the population. On the basis of a Foucauldian vocabulary of government, it is thereby argued that colonialism, at this time and place, had not yet clearly constituted itself as a particular form of rule.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History


  • Danish history, Imperial history, Michel Foucault, Montesquieu, Power, The colonial state
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-79
Number of pages33
JournalPolitical Power and Social Theory
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch