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Politics of Time'Primitives' and History-writing in a Colonial Society$
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Prathama Banerjee

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195681567

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195681567.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Politics of Time

Prathama Benerjee

Oxford University Press

This book investigates the constitution of the ‘historical’ in late nineteenth, early twentieth-century Bengal. It also explores the making of a people called the Santals into a ‘tribe’. In modernity, it appears as if the more ‘advanced’ a society, the better it is as a choice of lifestyle. Santals and Bengalis were two cultures and two temporalities, which could never meet without the work of a time machine. It is apparent that the very sensibilities of the temporal which define modernity work as a limit to the theoretical reach of modernity. Time is seen to unfold in the unhistoricizable site between the historical discourses of the nation and its practical constitution through the thematization of the ‘primitive within’. The Santal ancestor-story sees the passing of time not through the progressive unification of peoples into a community, but as the progressive differentiation and estrangement of a people who were once one.

Keywords:   modernity, Bengal, Santals, Bengalis, time, primitive within

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