The colonial genealogy of society: Community and political modernity in India

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

16 Scopus citations


While the concept of society as a pre-political category has come under serious scrutiny only now in Europe, its fate in the colonies was imperilled from the very beginning. There, it was impossible to maintain the Hegelian fiction that the system of particular interests that prevailed in the domain of civil society were dependent upon and achieved their general expression in the realm of the state.1 In fact, the European colonizers had little hesitation in acknowledging that the state was grafted from the outside, that their political authority was founded in conquest, not consent. Regardless of the variations in the ideology of domination – conservative versus liberal government, direct versus indirect rule – the defining feature of the colonial state was its externality. Unable to position itself as the political instance of the indigenous society, the colonial state operated as a Leviathan brought into existence by the conqueror’s sword.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Social in Question
Subtitle of host publicationNew Bearings in History and the Social Sciences
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)0203994531, 9781134573691
ISBN (Print)041523199X, 9780415231992
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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