Dum-Dum: Researching the History of a Bullet

University of Auckland

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Dum-Dum: Researching the History of a Bullet

  • Host University

    University of Auckland

  • Location

    Auckland, New Zealand

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Project Description

    The dum-dum bullet was first manufactured as military ammunition in 1897, in the controversial British arsenal located in the suburb of Dum-Dum on the outskirts of the city of Calcutta (Kolkata). Widely used in British colonial warfare after 1897, the hollow-nosed bullet was immediately controversial due to the severity of the injuries it caused. Newspaper media around the world condemned the bullet for its intense wounding capacity and condemned Britain for using the ammunition. The bullet was subsequently declared illegal at the Hague Peace Conference of 1899.

    · This project investigates the history of the dum-dum bullet from its inception as hunting ammunition (in the middle of the 1800s) to its regulation in international law, to its uses and abuses in time of war, imperial violence and rebellion. Using a range of electronic databases and the resources available at the University of Auckland Library, the successful research scholar will find, archive and analyse a wide-range of documentation relating to the bullet in the public’s imagination.

    Researcher’s Work

    The researcher will spend their time compiling a database of available source materials on the history of the dum-dum bullet from its invention and manufacture to its (ab)uses and representations in the media. They will conduct research in the University of Auckland’s substantive electronic databases and catalogues as well as other online sources to compile the database as well as comment on the content and historical value of the sources they uncover. They will undertake some contextual reading about the history of weaponry, bodily injury, hunting and the international law of war. The scholar will be given the opportunity to construct a 3,000-word research essay on their findings.

    Required Skills/Pre-requisites

    This project is particularly suited to students majoring in History, although students with expertise in international law, media studies or war studies will also be considered. Students with reading skills in languages other than English are particularly encouraged to apply.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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