In 1908 the novelist Flora Annie Steel turned her attention to historical fiction centered on the Mughal emperors. The first of these influential but critically neglected novels arrived just as Indian anticolonial terrorism had begun to incite drastic legislative powers of detention. Recasting the paradox of liberal imperialism in the form of Akbar's liberalizing impulse, Steel openly challenges the colonial rule of law. Prophetic of later British responses to mass nationalist mobilization, and in terms that closely anticipate Agamben's figure of homo sacer, the narrative endorses instead the grounds for a wholly modern and unobstructed form of sovereign violence.


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