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When did categories such as a national space and economy acquire self-evident meaning and a global reach? Why do nationalist movements demand a territorial fix between a particular space, economy, culture, and people?
Producing India mounts a formidable challenge to the entrenched practice of methodological nationalism that has accorded an exaggerated privilege to the nation-state as a dominant unit of historical and political analysis. Manu Goswami locates the origins and contradictions of Indian nationalism in the convergence of the lived experience of colonial space, the expansive logic of capital, and interstate dynamics. Building on and critically extending subaltern and postcolonial perspectives, her study shows how nineteenth-century conceptions of India as a bounded national space and economy bequeathed an enduring tension between a universalistic political economy of nationhood and a nativist project that continues to haunt the present moment.
Elegantly conceived and judiciously argued, Producing India will be invaluable to students of history, political economy, geography, and Asian studies.
We are confronted not by one social space but by many-indeed, by an unlimited multiplicity or uncountable set of social spaces.... No space disappears in the context of growth and development: the worldwide does not abolish the local.. . . Considered in isolation, such spaces are mere abstractions. As concrete abstractions, however, they attain their "real" existence by virtue of networks and pathways, by virtue of bunches or clusters of relationships.... Social spaces interpenetrate one another and/or superimpose themselves upon one another. They are not things, which have mutually limiting boundaries and which collide because of their contours.In a densely philosophical work, The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre opens with a wide-ranging critique of territorialist, ontological, and discursive conceptions of space. Against conceptions of space as a pregiven container, a physical-geographical location, a neutral backdrop of social relations, an ontological horizon, and a discursive effect, Lefebvre argues that space is a constitutive dimension of social relations, that it is at once a central "field of action" and "a basis for action." This relational and processual conception of space resonates with sociotheoretical understandings of social structure as simultaneously the locus, medium, and product of social relations and collective agency. Space, in this view, is not the static "container" of social relations, nor is it opposed to, much less ontologically privileged over, time and historicity. Rather, Lefebvre emphasizes the temporal dynamic of spatialization as a matrix of social relations and as an intrinsically historical phenomenon.
-Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 1978
The local does not disappear... it is never absorbed by the regional, national or even worldwide level. The national and regional take in innumerable "places"; national space embraces the regions; and world space does not merely subsume national space, but even precipitates the formation of national spaces through a remarkable process of fission. All these spaces, meanwhile, are traversed by myriad currents. The hypercomplexity of social space should now be apparent . . . [it] means that each fragment of space subjected to analysis masks not just one social relationship but a host of them. (88)Lefebvre does not specify the "remarkable process of fission" that subtends the proliferation of multiple spatialities and temporalities within and against a global space of coexistence. However, the principle of the "interpenetration and superimposition of social spaces" suggests that the very appearance of national, regional, and local spaces as bounded and mutually exclusive depends on a dense network of overlapping, intertwined, and dynamic interrelations.
Abstract space is not homogenous; it simply has homogeneity as its goal, its orientation, its "lens." And, indeed it renders homogenous. But in itself it is multiform.... Thus to look upon abstract space as homogenous is to embrace a representation that takes the effect for the cause, and the goal for the reason why that goal is pursued. A representation which passes itself off as a concept, when it is merely a... mirage; and which instead of challenging, instead of refusing, merely reflects. (287)A critical understanding of capital as not natural, unitary, or impelled by a unilinear logic demands equal attention to capitalism's own history, namely, its contradictory historical forms and the multiple space-times it generates.
Excerpted from Producing India: from Colonial Economy to National Space by Manu Goswami Copyright © 2004 by Manu Goswami. Excerpted by permission.
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1. Geographies of State Transformation: The Production of Colonial State Space
2. Envisioning the Colonial Economy
3. Mobile Incarceration: Travels in Colonial State Space
4. Colonial Pedagogical Consolidation
5. Space, Time, and Sovereignty in Puranic-Itihas
6. India as Bharat: A Territorial Nativist Vision of Nationhood, 1860-1880
7. The Political Economy of Nationhood
8. Territorial Nativism: Swadeshi and Swaraj
Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index