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Reconceptualizing India Studies$
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Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780198082965

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198082965.001.0001

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Colonialism and Colonial Consciousness *

Colonialism and Colonial Consciousness *

(p.95) Chapter 4 Colonialism and Colonial Consciousness*
Reconceptualizing India Studies

S.N. Balagangadhara

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that a colonial consciousness pervades both colonial and modern descriptions of India. Through an interdisciplinary survey of descriptions of India as a corrupt, immoral and caste-ridden society, it shows that colonial ways of describing the world persist to this day. Colonial consciousness denies the presence of morality in Indian culture and takes the superiority of Western culture both as its presupposition and its conclusion. This stance can be traced back to the Christian theological understanding of ‘heathen religions’. This allows us to explain as to why colonialism is intrinsically immoral and why it has been perceived as an educational project. Colonialism modifies the Indian experience and replaces it with frameworks that are rationally unjustified and unjustifiable and must therefore be imposed (violently or otherwise). Finally, the chapter traces some consequences of this characterisation of colonialism for postcolonial claims about the ‘hybridity’ and resistance of the colonised.

Keywords:   Colonial consciousness, colonialism, descriptions of India, Indian traditions, caste system, corruption, Christian theology, educational project

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