Histories of the British empire in India often present it as a stable and effective form of state power and a coherent ideology. Drawing on the argument of his recent book, The Chaos of Empire. Britain’s Raj and the Conquest of India, Jon Wilson argues in contrast that the British never built a stable state in India. Their power was fractious and anxious, limited in scope but prone to unreasonable violence. Focusing on the late C19th and C20th in his paper, Dr Wilson will argue that we need to see the shift from an imperial regime to South Asia’s independent nation states as a far more radical break than historians currently tend to suggest.