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Transferring a Political Theory: Early Nationalist Thought in India

Partha Chatterjee
Economic and Political Weekly
Vol. 21, No. 3 (Jan. 18, 1986), pp. 120-128
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4375224
Page Count: 9
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Transferring a Political Theory: Early Nationalist Thought in India
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Abstract

To understand nationalist politics in the third world, it is necessary to make an explicitly critical study of the ideology of the nationalism. Both sociological determinism and functionalism have sought to interpret nationalist ideology by emptying it of all content. The author's position, on the contrary, is that it is the content of nationalist ideology, its claims about what is possible and what is legitimate, which gives specific shape to its politics. When the political theory of the modern nation-state, which clearly shares the same discussive premises with all of post-Enlightenment European social thought, is transferred to the arena of nationalist thought in the colonies, what happens to the thematic and the problematic, those essentialist typologies and the notion of the Orientals (the colonised peoples) as non-sovereign, non-active? The answer to this question would give a crucial means of access into the fundamental shifts in discursive practices which accompany the transference of the political theory of nationalism to the colonial world. The complexities of this transference are examined here by considering the writings of Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay.

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