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Texts of Power: Emerging Disciplines in Colonial Bengal

Partha Chatterjee editor
Copyright Date: 1995
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Texts of Power
    Book Description:

    The contributors consider what the case of Bengal says about the workings of Western modernity in a colonial setting. Contributors: Pradip Kumar Bose, Keya Dasgupta, Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Tapti Roy, Ranabir Samaddar.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8686-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. 1 The Disciplines in Colonial Bengal
    (pp. 1-29)
    Partha Chatterjee

    When the gods arrived in Calcutta in 1880, they were met by a weeping Gañgā. The only available account of this visit tells us that Gañgā complained bitterly to the gods about the indignities she was being forced to suffer at the hands of the English, the new rulers of the country.¹ As he heard this tale of woe from his long-lost daughter, Brahmā, the creator of the world, was greatly distressed. Looking up, he surveyed the shore and realized to his utter amazement that this was not how he had created the world. Clearly, someone had intervened. The river...

  6. 2 Disciplining the Printed Text: Colonial and Nationalist Surveillance of Bengali Literature
    (pp. 30-62)
    Tapti Roy

    In the second half of the nineteenth century, the publishing industry, comprising the writing, printing, and distribution of books and periodicals, was perhaps the largest indigenous enterprise in Calcutta. In 1911, when the six jute mills located in Calcutta employed 15,111 people, there were ninetynine printing presses with 11,880 people working in them, making printing the second largest industry in the city.¹ However, unlike other industries, printing posed special problems of supervision and control. As is well known from examples from all over the world, the social impact of the printing of books went far beyond that of the mere...

  7. 3 Recovering the Nation’s Art
    (pp. 63-92)
    Tapati Guha-Thakurta

    This was a reviewer’s response to a pioneering Bengali book entitled, in translation, Fine Arts of Ancient India, published in January 1874. It echoed a sentiment and conjured up an image that pervaded Bengali middle-class writing in this period. The dual themes of past glory and present decline that structured such writing, and its concern with national regeneration and progress. were sharply etched in the emerging Bengali discourse on art and aesthetics. We confront here a recurrent motif of a fall from a prior golden age. As is European academic art theories,here too the very notion of classicism—the idea...

  8. 4 A Modern Science of Politics for the Colonized
    (pp. 93-117)
    Partha Chatterjee

    Sometime in the 1870s, a schoolteacher in a district town in eastern Bengal—a young man in his twenties—was writing a letter to a friend who was then on a trip to Europe. It was a letter in verse. What, it asked, had the friend seen in Europe? What had he seen of Britain, land of heroes, whose might was unequaled in the whole world? What had he seen of France, whose achievements in the sciences and the arts had taken that country to the very peak of civilization? What about Russia, “that barbaric land of snow?” And Germany,...

  9. 5 Sons of the Nation: Child Rearing in the New Family
    (pp. 118-144)
    Pradip kumar Bose

    Santāner caritra gathanis a pedagogy on the formation of the “character” of children.¹ This was an important part of the new normative discourse on the family that was produced in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Bengal.² This discourse conceived the “isolation” of the family not only from the kinship system but also from the world of work. The conception of the family as an “isolated” private domain, as a refuge from a competitive and brutal outside world, was one that was shared by most writers. The family, with its hierarchy, spatial arrangement, and disciplinary mechanism, constituted in this discourse one way...

  10. 6 A City Away from Home: The Mapping of Calcutta
    (pp. 145-166)
    Keya Dasgupta

    Cartography has been an instrument of colonial policy at least since the sixteenth century. Indeed, it is one of the earliest “disciplines” of colonial knowledge, preceding most other modern technologies of power.

    In India, surveys were made by the British of territories conquered and annexed by the East India Company from the middle of the eighteenth century. These surveys were conducted for several purposes: to plan military campaigns, to measure the extent of cultivated or cultivable lands, to detail routes of communication, and so on. In Bengal, “systematic surveying was first undertaken for civil and financial purposes”¹ in 1767 under...

  11. 7 Territory and People: The Disciplining of Historical Memory
    (pp. 167-200)
    Ranabir Samaddar

    Raja Jagadish Chandra Deo Dhabaldeb, the zamindar of Jambani, had his estate headquarters in Chilkigarh, a village dominated by the Mallakshatriya caste, to which the ruling lineage belonged. To Jambani was added the estate of Dhalbhum, one railway station away from Gidni, the stop for Jambani. The Bengal Nagpur Railway line (now South Eastern Railway) cut through the Jangalmahals from Kharagpur to Singhbhum in Bihar and Sambalpur in Orissa. Jambani and Dhalbhum, the two estates of the Jambani Raj, thus formed one continuous stretch of territory (Fig.7.1). Dhalbhum was rich in mineral deposits. Iron could be found in nodular form...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 201-208)
  13. Contributors
    (pp. 209-210)
  14. Index
    (pp. 211-220)