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Speaker(s) : Professor Partha Chatterjee
Recorded on 3 April 2014 at Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building
This lecture deals with four strands of trans-regional political movement in India’s anti-colonial history. The first is that of Islamic jihad which took inspiration from Sayyid Ahmad Barelvi’s campaigns in Sind, Afghanistan and Punjab in the early 19th century, was a submerged current in the 1857 revolt, sought to restore the Ottoman Khilafat after World War I and assumed the somewhat quixotic form of Obaidulla Sindhi’s attempt in the 1920s to mount an anti-British jihad from Kabul, Moscow and Ankara. The second consists of the international connections and alliances of nationalist armed revolutionaries, from the Ghadar party, Britain and US-based organizers such as Hardayal and Savarkar, the connections of the Bengal revolutionaries with Germany, the Irish rebels and anarchist groups in Europe, to the alliance of Subhas Chandra Bose with Germany and Japan during World War II. The third were the strong connections of Indian communists with the international communist movement. Finally, there were important critics such as Tagore who deplored the narrow self-aggrandizement of nationalism and pleaded for an opening to world humanity. All of these strands, with their possibilities and limits, continue to be vibrant today.
Professor Chatterjee's lecture will inaugurate the Internationalism, Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Solidarity research group convened by Dr Ayça Çubukçu at LSE's Centre for the Study of Human Rights.
Partha Chatterjee is a professor of anthropology and of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African studies at Columbia University and a Professor of Political Science at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Calcutta, India. He is a political theorist and historian and divides his time between Columbia University and the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, where he was the director from 1997 to 2007. A major focus of Partha Chatterjee’s work is nationalism, but in order to follow his thoughts on this topic, one must simultaneously think also of colonialism, post-colonialism, modernity, and the idea of the nation-state, and also summon up, simultaneously with that cluster of concepts, a not-nationalist and counter-colonial viewpoint about what these terms actually represent (or could actually represent), with special reference to India.
His books include: The Politics of the Governed: Considerations on Political Society in Most of the World (2004); A Princely Impostor? The Strange and Universal History of the Kumar of Bhawal (2002); A Possible India: Essays in Political Criticism (1997); The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (1993), and Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse? (1993). He is also a poet, playwright, and actor.