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The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and…

The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (edition 1993)

by Partha Chatterjee

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Title:The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories
Authors:Partha Chatterjee
Info:Princeton University Press (1993), Edition: 4th Print, Paperback, 296 pages
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The Nation and Its Fragments by Partha Chatterjee



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Key ideas:
1. That the nationalist project was to fashion a "modern" national culture that is nevertheless not Western.

2. Anti-colonial nationalism created its own domain of sovereignty by dividing the spiritual (inner) realm from the material (outer) realm.

3. "The greater the success in imitating Western skills in the material domain, therefore the greater the need to preserve the distinctness of one's spiritual culture"

4.Contradiction of the colonial state - "destined never to fulfill the normalising mission of the modern state because the premise of its power was a rule of colonial difference, namely the preservation of the alienness of the ruling group."

5. Ironically, it became the historical task of nationalism, which insisted on its own marks of cultural difference with the West, to demand that there be no rule of difference in the domain of the state."

6. And the task of colonialism to deny it. Thus, the Ilbert Bill showed the inherent impossibility of completeing the project of the modern state without superseding the conditions of colonial rule, which were based on racial division.

7. Elite and Subaltern domains not only acted in opposition to eachother, but through this process of struggle, have shaped the emergent form of the other.

8. Discourse: Native history: Problem is not always one of removing history but of history removing all else: Vincent Smith: "So long as Hindus continue to be Hindus, caste cannot be destroyed or even materially modified." (17)

9. The rule of colonial difference: Part of a common strategy for the deployment of the modern forms of disciplinary power - thus, the history of the colonial state, far from being incidental, is of crucial interest to the study of the past, present and future of the modern state."

10. Does Chatterjee want to emphasise difference or identity? Unless he defines his terms of modernity, it is impossible to know if such a "different modernity" is possible.
  willjackson | Dec 15, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0691019436, Paperback)

In this book, the prominent theorist Partha Chatterjee looks at the creative and powerful results of the nationalist imagination in Asia and Africa that are posited not on identity but on difference with the nationalism propagated by the West. Arguing that scholars have been mistaken in equating political nationalism with nationalism as such, he shows how anticolonialist nationalists produced their own domain of sovereignty within colonial society well before beginning their political battle with the imperial power. These nationalists divided their culture into material and spiritual domains, and staked an early claim to the spiritual sphere, represented by religion, caste, women and the family, and peasants. Chatterjee shows how middle-class elites first imagined the nation into being in this spiritual dimension and then readied it for political contest, all the while "normalizing" the aspirations of the various marginal groups that typify the spiritual sphere.

While Chatterjee's specific examples are drawn from Indian sources, with a copious use of Bengali language materials, the book is a contribution to the general theoretical discussion on nationalism and the modern state. Examining the paradoxes involved with creating first a uniquely non-Western nation in the spiritual sphere and then a universalist nation-state in the material sphere, the author finds that the search for a postcolonial modernity is necessarily linked with past struggles against modernity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:17 -0400)

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