Tension between colonizers and the colonized lies at the heart of this study. The colonial identity was founded in response to its difference from that of the native population and its 'dangerous' elements. Laws that were imposed by colonizers were therefore as much an attempt to confirm their own identity as to control the more dangerous elements of a potentially unruly populace. This, in turn, means that instead of Victorian England being the driving force behind colonial law, the reverse was true, with the tensions experienced in India having a direct effect on the British judicial system.
Primary source material from both British Parliamentary Papers and colonial archive material is used to provide evidence of legal change and response. Evidence is presented on the shared experience of 'dangerous' groups of people in both India and in Victorian England, as well as unique information on the status of South Asians in Britain. A case-study on the process of criminalization on the Sansi in colonial Punjab provides a fascinating example of how criminality can be produced by the creation of stereotypes based on fear ('dangerousness'), and an illustration of how science and taxonomy assisted the law in constructing Victorian and colonial identities.