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Violent Civilities: English, India, Culture [Paperback]

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Item description for Violent Civilities: English, India, Culture by Prem Poddar...

What is the relationship between the British colonial project and English literature in India? How did official pronouncements on the role of English in culture and education help define modern India? How can postcolonial theory contribute towards an understanding of this history and its aftermath? In this historical study, Prem Poddar shows how colonisers and the nationalists who succeeded them tended to inhabit the same discursive space. True difference and heterogeneity became the first casualty in the name of a united nation. The book details the "civil violence" of such policies in independent India. If the study of English is to remain relevant in ex-colonies like India, Poddar argues, it must take cognisance of postcolonial critiques that recognise other voices and locate English literature in its varied cultural and historical contexts. Violent Civilities will speak most obviously to scholars of English, India or postcolonial studies. But it is also for anyone interested in how contemporary academe can negotiate the relationship between national identity, language and culture.



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Item Specifications...


Pages   128
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.76" Width: 5.96" Height: 0.61"
Weight:   0.84 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2002
Publisher   David Brown Book Company
ISBN  8772887672  
ISBN13  9788772887678  


Availability  0 units.


More About Prem Poddar


Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! David Johnson is lecturer in the Department of Literature at The Open University and is the coauthor of "Shakespeare 1609: Cymbeline and the Sonnets" and "Jurisprudence: A South African Perspective," He is also the coeditor of "A Shakespeare Reader: Sources and Criticism,"

Prem Poddar is lecturer in English at Aarhus University, Denmark, and is the editor of "Translating Nations,"

Prem Poddar has an academic affiliation as follows - Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > World > General
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > General



Reviews - What do customers think about Violent Civilities: English, India, Culture?

academia and violence in the national set-up  Jun 25, 2003
Violent Civilities is at once a practical and theoretical demonstration of how nationalism and colonialism are inextricably intertwined, not only in their epistemological premises and ideological conceptualisations, but also in their policies and through their founding institutions.
Drawing from an array of the most significant anglophone postcolonial critics such as Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak, Stuart Hall and Ashis Nandy, Prem Poddar uses the Indian nation-state as a case-study in order to present a convincing account of how language and literature, within the institutions of public education and academia, have come to be represented as symptoms of certain national characters or characteristics, first by the colonial authorities, then later by Indian nationalist independence fighters and finally by literary critics from various backgrounds and nationalities. Poddar's analysis constitutes an urgent plead to take the historical grounding of the discipline of literature into consideration in the debate of its function and objectives as an academic discipline, and in doing so, he gives equal intention to the discursive as well as the institutional and political conditions of possibility, seeing them as a whole in which the subject of enunciation must be excavated and contextualised. Prem Poddar's book is highly recommendable not only because of its very competent engagement with postcolonial theory applied on archival research but also because of its bold and direct address of some of the basic epistemological, institutional presumptions which structure academic conceptualisation and evaluation of literature. Far from staying in the common binary between `relativism' and `universalism', Poddar's analysis demasks these concepts as parts of the same political take on culture and territory, a point which makes his work highly relevant beyond anglophone research areas. His refreshing courage to insist on and his ability to demonstrate how theory is practice, how discourse is event comes across as unusually forceful as it is adeptly concretised both in the historical and political context of post/colonialism and as it contributes in an innovative way to the ongoing debates about the formation and objectives of literary criticism.
 
Colonial and National Violence  Jun 16, 2003
Violent Civilities is at once a practical and theoretical demonstration of how nationalism and colonialism are inextricably intertwined, not only in their epistemological premises and ideological conceptualisations, but also in their policies and creating of institutions to uphold them.
Drawing from an array of the most significant anglophone postcolonial critics such as Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak, Stuart Hall and Ashis Nandy, Prem Poddar uses the Indian nation-state as a case-study in order to present a convincing account of how language and literature, within the institutions of public education and academia, have come to be represented as symptoms of certain national characters or characteristics, first by the colonial authorities, then later by Indian nationalist independence fighters and finally by literary critics from various backgrounds and nationalities. Poddar's analysis constitutes an urgent plea to take the historical grounding of the discipline of literature into consideration in the debate of its function and objectives as an academic discipline.In doing so, he gives equal attention to the discursive as well as the institutional and political conditions of possibility, seeing them as a whole in which the subject of enunciation must be excavated and contextualised
His unravelling of how British nationalist discourse has depended on and used literature as a means to promote its status by the creation of specific institutions is relentless in its questioning of the concept of `universalism' of the Enlightenment. What is revealed in the postcolonial context is its incapacity to deal with incommensurable cultural formations whose translations and interactions cannot be fathomed in the notions of `value' and `development', `progress' without these losing their imagined referents. At the same time, the independence of India has a certain limit in the sense that it has adopted the same power structures and epistemological grounding as the British empire, the same illusion about comprising difference under the label of diversity, glossing over or denying or suppressing any radical deviant behaviour. The book is rich on examples from the Indian archive of official reports and Poddar uses his analysis to criticise Indian nationalist politicians of independence for not having seized the opportunity to redefine and re-think the premises for a cultural and social collectivity.
This analysis also gives proof of how the thoughts of Frantz Fanon are used constructively in anglophone postcolonial theory as Poddar draws on his descriptions of how the colonised population can or will react by mimicry, direct opposition or by searching the desires and urges of the `common people' in their struggle to evade the colonial jug. Poddar presents several examples of these `phases' from the Indian-British implementing of nationalism on Indian territory, but does not submit this particular `development' to the critique of the progressive temporality of development which is questioned through Bhabha's notion of `time-lag' between the modern colonial centres and the traditional peripheral territories. This does not in any way make Poddar's argumentation less convincing but leaves Fanon appear as more limited by a determinist approach than what may be the case.
Prem Poddar's book is highly recommendable not only because of its very competent engagement with postcolonial theory applied on archival research but also because of its bold and direct address of some of the basic epistemological, institutional presumptions which structure academic conceptualisation and evaluation of literature. Far from staying in the common binary between `relativism' and `universalism', Poddar's analysis demasks these concepts as parts of the same political take on culture and territory, a point which makes his work highly relevant beyond anglophone research areas. His refreshing courage to insist on and his ability to demonstrate how theory is practice, how discourse is event comes across as unusually forceful as it is adeptly concretised both in the historical and political context of post/colonialism and as it contributes in an innovative way to the ongoing debates about the formation and objectives of literary criticism.
 

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