RAPE IN NATIONAL EPICS ABOUT THE INDIAN UPRISING OF 1857
The Mutiny proper began with the rising at Meerut on 10 May 1857 and the seizure of Delhi the next day; it virtually ended with the fall of Gwalior on 20 June 1858. . . . The highlights were the siege of Delhi and its recovery in late September, the operations around Kanpur and Lucknow including their famous sieges, and the central Indian campaign in 1858 of Tantia Topi and the Rani of Jhansi.
Percival Spear, A History of India1
Conventional British histories of the Indian Uprising of 1857, including Percival Spear History of India, excerpted above, rarely acknowledge the epistemological privilege that has, until recently, prompted most British writers to define this colonial war as a "mutiny" and to focus their narratives primarily on the military battles, especially those that reestablished British control. This same epistemological privilege writes itself into analyses of the causes of the uprising, which often accept the cliché that this rebellion began when Hindu and Muslim soldiers refused to handle the cartridges of the Enfield rifle because they were greased with beef tallow and pork fat. 2
Two anomalies disrupt these familiar narratives about the Indian Uprising of 1857 that assume that the rebellion began in, and remained primarily confined to, the British Army of Bengal. These anomalies concern bread and blood, chapatis and rape, since the events that these resonant symbols evoke do not fit into narratives which depend upon such simple causes and effects. Both elements have often been set aside, relegated to the status of