In 1963, a human skull was discovered in a pub in south-east England. The handwritten note found inside revealed it to be that of Alum Bheg, an Indian soldier in British service who had been blown from a cannon for his role in the 1857 Uprising, his head brought back as a grisly war-trophy by an Irish officer present at his execution. The skull is a troublesome relic of both anti-colonial violence and the brutality and spectacle of British retribution.
Kim Wagner presents an intimate and vivid account of life and death in British India in the throes of the largest rebellion of the nineteenth century. Examining the Victorians’ macabre fetish for collecting and exhibiting body parts, the book also offers a critical assessment of British imperialism that speaks to contemporary debates about the legacies of Empire and the myth of the ‘Mutiny’.