Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, History, New York University (NYU)

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1997
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Political Science, University of Chicago
The Production of 'India:' Colonialism, Nationalism, and Territorial Nativism, 1870-1920

My dissertation research contests the a priori assumption of a spatially bounded nation that underlies both dominant studies of nationalism and nationalist discourse. My project unfolds from a central question: what social practices and historical transformations anchored nationalist conceptions of India as a bounded national space and economy? As the constitutive presupposition of political nationalism, this specifically modern, territory-oriented conception of the nation and the economy marks a radical conceptual shift from prior indigenous, person-oriented, dynastic conceptions of space. My hypothesis is that constructions of India as a national space and economy were the product of a dynamic, conflictual interchange between colonial state practices and indigenous appropriations and revaluations of these practices. I shall explore the role of colonial state through an examination of: 1) monetary policies 2) cartographic practices and 3) the infrastructural technology of railways. These practices constituted the wider social and discursive context for the formation of notions of Bharat (the dominant Hindu-Hindi term for India). In order to grasp the social significance of state practices I shall analyze a range of indigenous histories and geography texts written during the 1870s and 1880s and later, institutional forms of nationalist discourse and practice. I shall analyze the tensions within nationalist discourse--between its universalist versus particularist visions of the nation and national economy – as integrally related to colonial state practices of social and spatial restructuring.