Dominance without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India

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Overview

What is colonialism and what is a colonial state? Ranajit Guha points out that the colonial state in South Asia was fundamentally different from the metropolitan bourgeois state which sired it. The metropolitan state was hegemonic in character, and its claim to dominance was based on a power relation in which persuasion outweighed coercion. Conversely, the colonial state was non-hegemonic, and in its structure of dominance coercion was paramount. Indeed, the originality of the South Asian colonial state lay precisely in this difference: a historical paradox, it was an autocracy set up and sustained in the East by the foremost democracy of the Western world. It was not possible for that non-hegemonic state to assimilate the civil society of the colonized to itself. Thus the colonial state, as Guha defines it in this closely argued work, was a paradox--a dominance without hegemony.

Dominance without Hegemony had a nationalist aspect as well. This arose from a structural split between the elite and subaltern domains of politics, and the consequent failure of the Indian bourgeoisie to integrate vast areas of the life and consciousness of the people into an alternative hegemony. That predicament is discussed in terms of the nationalist project of anticipating power by mobilizing the masses and producing an alternative historiography. In both endeavors the elite claimed to speak for the people constituted as a nation and sought to challenge the pretensions of an alien regime to represent the colonized. A rivalry between an aspirant to power and its incumbent, this was in essence a contest for hegemony.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Ranajit Guha held various research and teaching positions in India, England, the United States, and Australia before his retirement in 1988. He is the founding editor of Subaltern Studies and the author of A Rule of Property for Bengal and Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Note on Transliteration
1 Colonialism in South Asia: A Dominance without Hegemony and Its Historiography 1
I Conditions for a Critique of Historiography 1
II Paradoxes of Power 23
III Dominance without Hegemony: The Colonialist Moment 60
IV Preamble to an Autocritique 95
2 Discipline and Mobilize: Hegemony and Elite Control in Nationalist Campaigns 100
I Mobilization and Hegemony 100
II Swadeshi Mobilization 108
III Mobilization for Non-cooperation 122
IV Gandhian Discipline 135
V Conclusion 150
3 An Indian Historiography of India: Hegemonic Implications of a Nineteenth-Century Agenda 152
I Calling on Indians to Write Their Own History 152
II Historiography and the Formation of a Colonial State 156
III Colonialism and the Languages of the Colonized 176
IV Historiography and the Question of Power 193
V A Failed Agenda 210
Notes 215
Glossary 233
Index 241
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