This article examines the concept of colonial anxiety, drawing attention to the inherent problem with the topic that is the lack of definition. It is argued that an interdisciplinary debate is necessary in order to more accurately define the nature of how it may be applied and understood. This study has used personal histories, viewed through the prism of dream content and Lacanian schematics, in order to argue for a more structured approach to colonial anxiety and the rehabilitation of personal histories into postcolonial discussions. This is in line with the recent growth in interest in such histories, and points to the usefulness of such research. This study uses through epistolary examination to identify signifiers of anxiety in the dreams of two colonial servants: Warren Hastings, Governor-General of India (1772-85) and Alexander Hall, factor at Sumatra (1751-64). These have further been contextualised with the concept of desire to add greater depth to the discussion of colonial anxiety.

Colonial anxiety, colonial service, postcolonial studies, interdisciplinary histories, personal histories