Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

Complete Political Independence: The Curious Genealogy of a Nationalist Indian Demand

in partnership with the South Asia Center and the Dept. of History, and Dept. of South Asia Studies

Mrinalini Sinha
Historian of Modern South Asia and the British Empire, University of Michigan
Thursday, April 25, 2024 - 12:00
Center for the Advanced Study of India Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science & Economics 133 South 36th Street, Suite 230 Philadelphia PA 19104-6215

About the Seminar:
The Indian National Congress, the mainstream old anti-colonial political institution in British India, passed a resolution in 1929 in which it officially demanded complete political independence for India from the British empire. The question of political independence—against other modes of exit from the existing colonial situation—had been in the air for at least a few decades before the Congress signed on to it. Although immortalized immediately afterwards in the famous Gandhi-led Salt Satyagraha against the British in 1930, the historical conditions that had necessitated the resolution in the first place have remained obscure. This seminar will attempt to defamiliarize the history of this political demand. It does so by locating the question of the future of India alongside the future of Indians in the British empire. Its aim is to intervene in both a long-standing scholarship that had naturalized the transition from empires to nations and in the recent academic fascination with political forms that offered an alternative to, or by-passed, the nation-state.

About the Speaker:
Mrinalini Sinha is a historian of Modern South Asia and of the British Empire. She has written on various aspects of the political history of colonial India, with a focus on anti-colonialism, gender, and transnational approaches. She has recently been working on the different forms of political imaginings, beyond the nation-state, that animated anti-colonial thought in India at least until the interwar period. She is the author of Colonial Masculinity: The Manly Englishman and the Effeminate Bengali (Manchester, 1995) and the prize-winning book Specters of Mother India: The Global Restructuring of an Empire (Duke, 2006). Recently, she co-edited a volume with Manu Goswami called Political Imaginaries in Twentieth-Century India (Bloomsbury, 2022). She has been a recipient of several fellowships, including from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Institute of Indian Studies, and the American Philosophical Society. She is currently working on a book project, tentatively entitled Complete Political Independence: The Curious Genealogy of a Nationalist Indian Demand. She is a former president of the Association for Asian Studies.

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