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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: October 2011

CHAPTER 1 - Reinterpreting Tagore's Politics in Modern Postcolonial Contexts


Colonialism deeply affected attitudes to politics, society, community, nation, gender, intercommunity relations, and ecology in India. The area is, however, not only over-researched but has also received the scholarly attention of the most incisive students of history and politics in India. One would have hesitated to rush into this scholarly minefield had the purpose not been very limited, which is to understand how the thought processes of the most versatile genius of Bengal and India in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century were conditioned by colonialism while reflecting on the above mentioned questions, and yet how transcending this colonial context, they remain relevant even in the twenty-first century post-modern world.

The reasons for choosing Tagore as a filter for ‘re-membering’ the impact of colonialism in India are many, not the least of which is the extreme difficulty of branding Tagore in any of the post-Enlightenment or anti-Enlightenment modes of thought prevalent in colonial India. Politics of colonialism not only in India but anywhere else, where colonialism has made it impossible to resurrect the country's past(s) in pristine, unalloyed forms, can be best understood not from the reactions of ‘Ariels’ or the ‘Calibans’ it produced, but from those of other independent thinkers, who inhabited interstitial spaces between the extreme archetypes with a kind of ‘inbetweenness’.

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