Partha Chatterjee. Empire and Nation, Essential Writings 1985-2005.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Munir, Kashif
Pub Date: 03/22/2010
Publication: Name: Pakistan Development Review Publisher: Pakistan Institute of Development Economics Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business, international; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Reproduced with permission of the Publications Division, Pakistan Institute of Development Economies, Islamabad, Pakistan. ISSN: 0030-9729
Issue: Date: Spring, 2010 Source Volume: 49 Source Issue: 1
Topic: NamedWork: Empire and Nation, Essential Writings 1985-2005 (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Chatterjee, Partha
Accession Number: 238556930
Full Text: Partha Chatterjee. Empire and Nation, Essential Writings 1985-2005. New Delhi, India: Permanent Black Himalayana Mall Road Ranikhet Cantt, 2010. 368 pages. Hardback. Indian Rs 695.

'Empire and Nation' is a collection of writings of Partha Chatterjee, a professor of Political Science and Anthropology. In his essays, he explores India from political, cultural and historical perspectives. Indian nationalism and identity is one of the main ideas of the book. The superiority of Indian culture and thoughts is put forth and western philosophies and thoughts are downplayed with reason.

The book sets the stage for examining the evolution of Indian culture with a discourse on Indian Mythologies and then moves on to the many aliens, especially the Muslims and the East India Company, who ruled India at different times in history. The influence of Muslims on Indian culture is discussed at length, right from the times of Muhammad-Bin-Qasim to Mughal emperors. Different omens prevalent in ancient India have been discussed with examples like Mahabharata and the wars of Indian gods. The book then describes how the alien traditions, and religions foreign to India, mingled with the Indian culture and religions to influence the Indian culture.

Besides the introduction written by Nivedita Menon, the book is organised into three parts. The Part I; 'Empire and Nation' provides an interesting history of Indian nationalism going back to Indian mythologies, gods and goddesses. The Part II: 'Democracy', explores the democratic movements in India and talks of all major players in the Indian democracy. In 'Capital and Community', the final part of the book, diverse issues like civil society, Capital and the Problems of Bengal have been discussed in this part of the book.

Chatterjee, has tackled controversial issues like modernity, nationalism, democracy, the role of women and minorities with sagacity and the writings have been enriched with lively criticism of the western thought on the subjects. Most of his arguments are grounded in history. Different political thoughts and philosophies have also been discussed, with their pros and cons to the Indian context. To conclude the book discusses various theories of society and culture and examines how these theories fit in the Indian context.

The book is useful for those who want to study infant democracies, especially democracies that have to cope with ethnic, religious and cultural diversity.
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