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Series: Beginnings

This book provides a sense of the continuing debates about postcolonialism while seeking to anchor some of its key themes and vocabularies securely. It takes as its primary focus, the various reading practices which distinguish and characterise much of the field - practices which for the purpose of this book attend chiefly to literary texts, but which can be applied beyond a strictly literary context to other cultural phenomena. The book introduces some major areas of enquiry within postcolonialism, as well as offers concrete examples of various kinds of relevant reading and writing practices. It provides a brief historical sketch of colonialism and decolonisation, providing the intellectual contexts and development of postcolonialism. The book approaches various attitudes towards nationalist representations in literary and other writings during the busy period of decolonisation in the 1950s and 1960s. It then deals with national traditions and national history, and the conflict between national liberation and imperialist domination. Divisions within the nation such as ethnicity, language, gender and eliteness which threaten the realisation of its progressive ideals are discussed, with attention on Partha Chatterjee's narrative of Indian nationalism and Chinua Achebe's novel Anthills of the Savannah. Other discussions include the re-reading of literary 'classics', the re-writing of received literary texts by postcolonial writers, postcolonial feminist criticism, and migration and diaspora in the context of decolonisation. The 'STOP and THINK' section in each chapter identify focal points of debate for readers to pursue critically.


This book looks at India in the context of a globalized world. It starts by looking at the history of Indian civilization, exploring the roots of Indian identity and highlighting processes such as foreign invasions, foreign trade, cultural imperialism, colonial rule and the growth of Indian nationalism. The founding fathers wanted India to be a liberal democracy and the values enshrined in the constitution were expected to form the basis of a society more in tune with the modern world. The book examines the gradual democratization of Indian politics. Cultural and ethnic divisions in Indian society are examined in depth, as are the problems that have prevented economic development and stood in the way of economic liberalization. The history of India's integration into the global economy is considered, and the opportunities available to the country in the early years of the twenty-first century are detailed. Alternative approaches to the development of the country, such as those put forward by Gandhi, are discussed, and the final chapters consider the Indian government's perception of the Indian diaspora, as well as the changing priorities reflected in India's foreign policy since 1947.

John McLeod

Chatterjee explores in relation to anti-colonial nationalism in India, although he claims that the innovations he finds in an Indian context are by no means confined to this location. Echoing perhaps Fanon’s three stages of the creation of national consciousness and national culture (which we explored in Chapter 3 ), Chatterjee’s narrative of Indian nationalism in Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World also focuses on three important phases in which nationalism is derived from Western thought – but is transformed as it is turned to new anti-colonial purposes. In

in Beginning postcolonialism (second edition)
Open Access (free)
An epilogue
Saurabh Dube

configurations of anticolonial nationalism on the subcontinent. Until the end of the 1910s, Indian nationalism had remained a principally middle-class (and elite) phenomenon, despite some attempts during the Swadeshi period to draw in popular participation in nationalist agitation. All this was to change from the beginnings of the 1920s as Mahatma Gandhi took decisive steps to transform Indian nationalism, turning

in Subjects of modernity
Laxman Naiko’s revolt, 1942
Biswamoy Pati

and Dalits. In this sense, his vision of swaraj – along with the large section of the people who participated in the 1942 movement in the region – transgressed the position of the Congress. At the same time, Laxman’s political career illustrates how he clearly transcended the so-called elite barriers associated with Indian nationalism, and features like ‘territoriality’ that supposedly inhibited the tribals, Dalits and the poor non-tribals from becoming involved with larger movements like the national movement. After all, Laxman was hanged for his association with

in South Asia from the margins
Harrison Akins

prevalent within the princely states, the nationalist movement did not initially hold this view. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as Indian nationalism took its early steps, leading members of the movement pointed to the internal political autonomy enjoyed by the princely states as ‘undeniable evidence of the aptitude of the Native races for Government,’ as described by Surendra Nath Roy, a High Court lawyer in Calcutta. Unlike the British Indian provinces at the time, the princely states offered Indians

in Conquering the maharajas
Abstract only
T.G. Fraser

Congress through the prism of his experiences in contemporary Belfast politics. Sir Michael O’Dwyer’s record shows that such fervent imperialism was not confined to Irish Protestants. Ireland’s contribution to the growth of Indian nationalism is less easy to assess, despite the evidence of interest on the part of people like Daniel O’Connell, Margaret Noble and Frank Hugh O

in ‘An Irish Empire’?
Echoes of Orissa, 1800–2000

This book aims to sketch the diversities of south Asian social History, focusing on Orissa. It highlights the problems of colonialism and the way it impacted the lives of the colonised, even as it weaves in the manner in which the internal order of exploitation worked. Based on archival and rare, hitherto untapped sources, including oral evidence, it brings to life diverse aspects of Orissa's social history. These include areas like the environment; health and medicine; conversion (in Hinduism); popular movements; social history of some princely states; and the intricate connections between the marginal social groups and Indian nationalism. It also focuses on decolonisation and its meanings. Alongside, it explores the face of patriarchy and gender-related violence in post-colonial Orissa. While achieving this task, this book follows the track of an inter-disciplinary tradition and draws upon social anthropology and political sociology. The manner in which it engages with and questions the received wisdom of imperialist, nationalist and subaltern historiography would make it attractive to both the specialist and the non-specialist reader. Besides focusing on the history of colonialism and its ruthless progress over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, its concerns include the manner in which the post-colonial ruling classes in decolonised south Asia negotiated a host of problems that were allowed to remain and left unresolved. This book would be of interest to students of history, social anthropology, political sociology and cultural studies. It would also attract those associated with non-governmental organisations and planners of public policy.

Hilary Sapire

Complementing new writings that highlight the significance of monarchy in the history of Britain’s decolonisation and the place of republicanism in anti-colonial nationalist political thought, this chapter presents a perspective on these phenomena from the vantage point of a minority, diasporic South Asian population in the Indian Ocean city of Durban in South Africa’s most Anglophone province. Tracing public and political sentiment during key moments, from the royal visit to southern Africa and the independence of India in 1947 to the declaration of a Republic of South Africa in 1961 and the turn to the armed struggle by the African National Congress, it explores the discomfiting questions about belonging, affiliation, identity and subjecthood that these moments provoked. It also shows the contradictory pulls exerted by a vestigial empire loyalism and monarchism, Indian nationalism, and an incipient South African non-racial political movement.

in The break-up of Greater Britain
The ‘Negro menace’ of 1919
Peter Hulme

While this essay sketches the life of the Jamaican political activist, W.A. Domingo, its focus is on the summer months of 1919 in New York City when a pamphlet written by Domingo was highlighted by the Lusk Committee of the New York State Senate as exhibiting ‘a startling plan for the organisation of the negroes into radical units’. That pamphlet, entitled ‘Socialism Imperilled, or the Negro – A Potential Menace to American Radicalism’, is described and analysed, particular attention being given to Domingo’s rhetorical strategy of positing a situation in which a socialist president is elected and of then describing the plausible scenario in which a Southern black militia could end up shooting Northern white workers. The best way of avoiding such a possibility, Domingo argued, was for the Socialist Party of America to overcome its racism and mount a serious campaign to encourage black recruits into its ranks. The pamphlet is then contextualised by means of a consideration of Domingo’s other publications in 1919, which together show his dual interest in matters of race and class, as well as his commitment to West Indian nationalism – a commitment that would dominate the second half of his career.

in Revolutionary lives of the Red and Black Atlantic since 1917