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The Mirrored World: Varieties of Early 20th Century Indian Anti-Colonial Internationalism

Lecture by Kris Manjapra, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow, UCLA

Monday, October 15, 2007
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
10383 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

This paper will consider how radical Indian anti-colonial thinkers in turn-of-the-century Bengal plotted allegories for the Indian condition on various stages throughout the world. The plotting of this extended and articulated allegory was a central feature of the intellectual insurgency that characterized the Swadeshi years, 1905-1915. Kris Manjapra will focus on the centrality of the international imagination, as well as on the physical travel outside the territorial bounds of India that it brought about among Calcutta- and Dhaka- based Swadeshi revolutionaries.  Locality and translocality, the home and the world, operated as an integrated system in the construction of a new radical anti-colonial politics in Bengal at the turn-of-the century. The international imagination of Swadeshi thinkers was used to assert alternative notions of historical time that thwarted the colonial schema of improvement and reform, and to propose subversive national geographies outside the framework of the center-periphery spatial regimen of imperialism.  Consulting journals, newspapers, political texts and travel literature from turn-of-the-century Bengal, this lecture will address how the world came to be conceived as a mirrored terrain, one where Swadeshi thinkers found allegories for their own struggles and experiences in China and Japan, in Germany and Italy, and in America.  The lecture will also address the centrality of internationalism in South Asian anti-colonial struggle more generally, beyond Bengal, and into the 1920s and 1930s.

Kris Manjapra is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at UCLA.  He completed his dissertation in the Harvard History Department in 2007. A student of modern intellectual history from a transnational perspective, his fundamental interest is in how genealogies of thought develop within global arenas, and within entangled histories.  Kris Manjapra's areas of particular interest are in South Asian and German thought of the 19th and 20th centuries.  He published an article on the travels of Indian anti-colonial activists to WWI Germany in the Journal of Global History (November 2006), and he is currently co-editing a collected volume on South Asian Cosmopolitanism, and working on an article on Gadamer's Hermeneutics. At UCLA, he is also working on his book manuscript on Cosmopolitan Encounter between Indian Revolutionaries and German Radicals, 1905-1939.

Sponsor(s): Center for India and South Asia

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