Indirect Agents of Empire: Army Officers' Wives in British India and the American West, 1830-1875 Academic Article uri icon


  • The experiences of army officers wives stationed in British India and the U.S. West during the period 18301875 offer a critical dimension to understandings of imperialism. This comparative analysis argues that these women designed a distinct identity that blueprinted, directed, and legitimized the ambitions of empire. In feminizing the Armys ranking system, officers wives appropriated and wielded male authority. Military homesa space where class, race, ethnicity, and gender intersectedfunctioned as operational sites of empire, and, in managing household servants, officers wives both designed and endorsed the principles of benevolent imperialism. Whether adjudicating local disputes, emasculating soldier-servants of lower rank, or enacting the social norms of the metropole, these women confidently executed their duty as imperial agents.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • McInnis, V. G.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • McInnis, Verity G

publication date

  • August 2014