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The Materiality of Politics: Volume 1

The Materiality of Politics: Volume 1: The Technologies of Rule

Ranabir Samaddar
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Anthem Press
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    The Materiality of Politics: Volume 1
    Book Description:

    Through a series of historical illustrations, the author investigates the political aspects of violence, law, terror, protection, justice and post-colonial governance.

    eISBN: 978-1-84331-765-4
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgements (pp. xi-xiv)
    Ranabir Samaddar
  4. Introduction: THE MATERIALITY OF POLITICS (pp. 1-18)

    This book is about the materiality of politics, or to use the term I prefer, it is about the ‘physicality’ of politics, illustrated through a series of essays on the violent politics of our time, the governmental techniques of controlling society's unruly elements and the unsettling dreams of the once colonized and now post-colonial political subject. In order to focus on this central aim, readers must keep in mind two hypotheses that have dominated recent historical-political studies. This book does not share the full claims of these hypotheses; instead it seeks an alternative way of grasping the materiality or the...

  5. Chapter 1 COLONIAL CONSTITUTIONALISM (pp. 19-58)

    To understand how India is ruled today, we must begin with one of the most decisive features of colonial rule in India—the colonial constitutional designs and colonial constitutional culture. Colonial constitutionalism was designed to reinforce the material aspects of colonial rule; it was in fact one of the most physical aspects of the process of rule. If colonialism could not survive without its constitutional pillars, constitutionalism had to be colonial in order to culminate in the text that constituted power. This was one of the most fundamental lessons of our colonial history, a lesson still relevant today.

    One of...

  6. Chapter 2 LAW, TERROR AND THE COLONIAL STATE (pp. 59-106)

    Let us now move on to another aspect of modern rule besides constitutionalism. I want to discuss here the issue of terror, the most unambiguously physical aspect of politics, or theonlyunambiguously physical aspect of the politics of our time. And here too it is best to see how the patterns were laid down in the colonial time in terms of the ways in which rule relates to terror, law inheres violence and reciprocates the spirit of violence, and constitutionalism discovers its other without which it cannot act, namely terror in politics. As I shall show, once again with...


    But are these two technologies enough to rule? It is true that the modern rule calls for a constitution specifically built on colonial designs. It also requires that this constitutional rule be founded, reinforced and mediated by a combination of terror and law (the essence of colonial constitutionalism), law that is inspired by terror, law that assumes the sovereign authority to be an exceptional agency beyond rules and norms. Yet, to rule it is not enough to have guiding principles and norms and an effective combination of law, terror and violence. To rule means to rule people, which also means...

  8. Chapter 4 CARE, PROTECTION AND POWER (pp. 133-188)

    The political stakes in caring for and protecting people are enormous. The techniques of caring and protecting are vital elements of governing, and as I aim to demonstrate in this chapter, they are as important as techniques of domination, production and symbolic rule. If the mastery of certain techniques identifies for the world the objects to be ruled, the mastery of the techniques of caring and protecting produces a fantastic range of institutional practices for the political self to deploy to make the world a suitable place for survival. Politics as a form of power needs kindness, the quality and...

  9. Chapter 5 STABLE RULE AND UNSTABLE POPULATION (pp. 189-248)

    Conquest, violence, law, racism—the foundational features of politics—these were the themes I touched upon briefly in the third chapter. Moreover, in opening the book with an account of colonial constitutionalism I also wanted to indicate that the rights discourse started with the right to conquest and colonize, and this right not only laid down the structure of rule in the colony but impacted on the structures of rule and governance at ‘home’ as well, i.e. in the country of the colonial power, creating some form of internal colonialism. Legitimizing conquest and violence became the concern of political theories...

  10. INDEX OF NAMES (pp. 249-251)
  11. SUBJECT INDEX (pp. 252-257)
  12. Back Matter (pp. 258-258)