Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Age of Entanglement

Age of Entanglement

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Age of Entanglement
    Book Description:

    Age of Entanglementexplores the patterns of connection linking German and Indian intellectuals from the nineteenth century to the years after the Second World War. Kris Manjapra traces the intersecting ideas and careers of philologists, physicists, poets, economists, and others who shared ideas, formed networks, and studied one another's worlds. Moving beyond well-rehearsed critiques of colonialism, this study recasts modern intellectual history in terms of the knotted intellectual itineraries of seeming strangers. Collaborations in the sciences, arts, and humanities produced extraordinary meetings of German and Indian minds. Meghnad Saha met Albert Einstein, Stella Kramrisch brought the Bauhaus to Calcutta, and Girindrasekhar Bose began a correspondence with Sigmund Freud. Rabindranath Tagore traveled to Germany to recruit scholars for a new university, and Himanshu Rai worked with Franz Osten to establish movie studios in Bombay. These interactions, Manjapra argues, evinced shared responses to the hegemony of the British empire. Germans and Indians hoped to find in one another the tools needed to disrupt an Anglocentric world order. As Manjapra demonstrates, transnational encounters are not inherently progressive. From Orientalism to Aryanism to scientism, German-Indian entanglements were neither necessarily liberal nor conventionally cosmopolitan, often characterized as much by manipulation as by genuine cooperation.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72631-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Note on Style and Transliteration
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    There was a time when German nationalism was a prime force challenging the idea of Europe, just as Indian anticolonial nationalism was a prime force challenging the idea of Empire. In collaboration, although separated by a stark power differential, Germans and Indians sought to destroy the nineteenth-century world order organized by British power. In the late nineteenth century, Germans and Indians, positioned across multiple imperial systems, and across the colonial divide, began to use each other to pry apart and reorganize the world order. They used each other’s intellectual institutions and each other’s platforms of recognition to claim political distinction...


    • ONE German Servants of the British Raj
      (pp. 17-40)

      German interactions with India date back more than 500 years and took place outside the bounds of a formal imperial relationship.¹ But the institutions of the British empire, and the place of Germans and Austrians within it, set the stage and established the parameters for sustained German–Indian historical entanglements that operated not at the level of occasional individual interactions and mere curiosity, but at the level of political interests and societal forces. German Orientalists may have never enjoyed firsthand the Orientalist grandeur of the British and the French empires, but they certainly contributed greatly to practices of British overseas...

    • TWO Indian Subjects beyond the British Empire
      (pp. 41-55)

      The partition of Bengal, finally instituted in 1905, intensified an ongoing movement for nationalist resistance against British rule. Thesvadeśi(svadśi= for the native land, or home country) movement took shape.¹ The movement involved the boycott of foreign manufactured goods in domestic markets, militant attacks on colonial administrators and policemen, and the confident rise of a new kind of Indian anticolonial internationalism expressed as efforts in cultural diplomacy and alliance building outside the British imperial spatial regime.² The boycott and the radical militancy have become the focus of histories ofsvadeśiactivism.³ But in context of the disaggregation of...

    • THREE German Visions of an Asianate Europe
      (pp. 56-87)

      Beginning officially in 1884 and occurring mostly within a fitful six years during the 1890s, Germany acquired colonial possession in coastal China, South-West Africa, East Africa, the Cameroon, and Togoland.¹ It also obtained territories in the Pacific, including Kaiser Wilhelmsland in New Guinea, and a number of islands in the Bismarck Archipelago.² The Britain–Germany relationship was already chilly when Queen Victoria was still alive, but it became overtly antagonistic and reached a symbolic watershed moment with the queen’s death in 1901.³ The struggle for the Middle East and the “Scramble for Africa” in the 1880s was followed by a...

    • FOUR Indian Visions of a Germanic Home
      (pp. 88-108)

      World War I brought Indians to Germany in large numbers. The Great War dealt a serious blow to the vitality of the British empire, and scholars have argued that the “decolonizing process” began as early as the time boots hit the ground in the Dardanelles. The increasing entanglements of Indian nationalists with societies and institutional spaces outside the British empire were symptoms not only of the decline of British power in India but also of the loss of Britain’s magnetic force as the lodestar at the center of a world order. The multiplication of centers of world power in the...


    • FIVE The Physical Cosmos
      (pp. 111-142)

      The previous chapters have considered the social and political dimensions of rising entanglements between Indian and German travelers and their histories, especially in terms of the breakdown of the cohesive force uniting the ideals of “Europe” and “Empire” from the late nineteenth century onward. The second part of this book argues that this wreckage and rearrangement of geopolitics tracked transformations in the history of thought, and the history of transnational encounter. The rise of post-Enlightenment epistemologies across the range of the sciences and the humanities occurred over the course of this same period, 1880–1945. Post-Enlightenment discourses did not jettison...

    • SIX International Economies
      (pp. 143-170)

      After the Great War, Indians and Germans worked together to develop new universalist perspectives on the structure of world commerce—the flows and exchanges of trade and industry—that crossed territories and linked different regions of the earth together.¹ The claim of these sciences to special insight about the world economy served as weapons in the arsenal of both groups. The epistemic radicalism of some German-speaking economists after the Great War drew upon their attentive study of economic development in colonial and semicolonial Asia, for which India played an exemplary role. But German economists were also interested in engaging with...

    • SEVEN Marxist Totality
      (pp. 171-190)

      In the age of entanglement, radical Marxist thinkers struggled to conceive of laborers around the world as constituting a universal force—the consciousness of world history coming to self-recognition. In the words of the young Georg Lukács, the Marxist vision of totality is grasped when the proletariat becomes conscious of itself “as simultaneously the subject and object of the socio-historical process.”¹ The workers of the world, Europeans and colonial subjects alike, formed a collective world-historical subject that would work out the universal, objective meaning of human history, radical Marxists believed. Marxism provided a worldview symmetrically opposed to liberalism: instead of...

    • EIGHT Geocultural Wholes
      (pp. 191-210)

      German and Indian nationalist thinkers used political geography and cultural history to make assertions about the expansive geographic dimensions of culture in ways that sought to regionalize the world. Especially after World War I, deglobalizing claims aimed to interrupt the normative nineteenth-century world map centered around the North Atlantic, diffusing outward to engulf the globe. Post-Enlightenment scholarship revealed maps of supposedly resilient flows of culture, history, and even race, and called for a revolutionary reorganization of space on earth. Projects in cultural geography were inherently interdisciplinary, and some of those projects were co-creations of Germans and Indians as they imagined...

    • NINE The Psychoanalytic Universe
      (pp. 211-237)

      Psychoanalysis created a dialogic arena in which Germanic and Indian identities enchanted the human realm by disclosing hidden order not in the outer world, but in the inner world of the psyche. Postcolonial historical research has tended to consider psychoanalysis as a scientific discourse of the West, infused with the worldview of Empire, which once diffused to India, found new receptions and interpretations there.¹ But if psychoanalysis was more counterscience than conventional science, and if it was a child of the age of transnational entanglement not of Europe an Enlightenment, then we must appreciate the specific place of psychoanalysis as...

    • TEN Worlds of Artistic Expression
      (pp. 238-274)

      In the years after the Great War, a Moravian intellectual educated in Vienna, Stella Kramrisch, played a crucial role in institutionalizing a new way of thinking of Indian art as an aperture into a hidden world of creativity. She was inspired by theories that originated at the Shantiniketan School of Art under Rabindranath Tagore, Abanindranth Tagore, and Nandalal Bose. Meanwhile, Franz Osten, a German film director from Munich collaborated with Himanshu Rai in creating a new aesthetics for Indian modernist cinema in the 1920s, in which Indian villages became the backdrops for dramas about social change and feminine individualism. Himanshu...

    • ELEVEN A New Order
      (pp. 275-288)

      This book has focused on intellectual projects to rearrange and recategorize the world—to do what scientific universalism had always done, but now in the service of the self-identified castaways, the vanquished, the rebels, and the exiles of the earth. Those were the types who most enthusiastically used countersciences in the early twentieth century. But the grand efforts to rearrange the natural and cultural worlds were not the result of acts of the will of individual actors. They were expressions of historical context—expressions of their times. The specific geopolitical conditions that arose with the seismic shift in world power...

  7. Epilogue
    (pp. 289-292)

    This book has argued that what people think must be seen in the context of whom they talk to, and the political interests that inform their talk. Political groups, despite their obvious alienating differences and power differentials, and despite immense material differences, will talk with each otherwhen they need help. And the underlying subject matter of such transnational talk, in the particular historical age of interest here, 1880–1945, was the aim to reenvision the world order and enchant the world in ways that surpassed the nineteenth-century ideals of a “Concert of Europe” and Enlightenment Empire. Buried in these...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 295-390)
  9. Glossary of Bengali and German Names and Keywords
    (pp. 391-394)
  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 395-426)
  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 427-430)
  12. Index
    (pp. 431-442)