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Partha Chatterjee on 'Nationalism, Internationalism, and Cosmopolitanism: Some Lessons from Modern Indian History'

[Logo of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Image from lse.ac.uk] [Logo of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Image from lse.ac.uk]

On 3 April 2014, Partha Chatterjee gave a lecture on "Nationalism, Internationalism, and Cosmopolitanism: Some Lessons from Modern Indian History" at the London School of Economics. The lecture inaugurated the Internationalism, Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Solidarity research group convened by Ayça Çubukçu at LSE's Centre for the Study of Human Rights. Below is the audio recording of that event.

The 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. 

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. His books include: The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power (2012); Lineages of Political Society: Studies in Postcolonial Democracy (2011); Empire and Nation: Selected Essays 1985-2005 (2010);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), andNationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse? (1993). He is also a poet, playwright, and actor.


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