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Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introductionby Leela Gandhi
Synopses & Reviews
Europeans and Americans tend to hold the opinion that democracy is a uniquely Western inheritance, but in The Common Cause, Leela Gandhi recovers stories of an alternate version, describing a transnational history of democracy in the first half of the twentieth century through the lens of ethics in the broad sense of disciplined self-fashioning. Gandhi identifies a shared culture of perfectionism across imperialism, fascism, and liberalism—an ethic that excluded the ordinary and unexceptional. But, she also illuminates an ethic of moral imperfectionism, a set of anticolonial, antifascist practices devoted to ordinariness and abnegation that ranged from doomed mutinies in the Indian military to Mahatma Gandhis spiritual discipline.
Reframing the way we think about some of the most consequential political events of the era, Gandhi presents moral imperfectionism as the lost tradition of global democratic thought and offers it to us as a key to democracys future. In doing so, she defends democracy as a shared art of living on the other side of perfection and mounts a postcolonial appeal for an ethics of becoming common.
This is the first book of its kind to clearly map out the field of postcolonialism in its own terms. The book provides an overview of postcolonialism's pervasiveness in the academy, and lucidly illustrates the debates about the often conflicting consensus regarding the proper content, scope and relevance of its concerns. The book also elaborates on the themes and issues that have engaged the attention of postcolonial critics. From its influence in Marxism and poststructuralism, from the work of Edward Said to Salman Rushdie, from feminist imperialism to globalization and hybridity, Gandhi demonstrates the ethical concern that postcolonial theory can offer: how to take into account diversity without erasing distinct diasporas of difference.
Postcolonial Theory is a ground-breaking critical introduction to the burgeoing field of postcolonial studies.Leela Gandhi is the first to clearly map out this field in terms of its wider philosophical and intellectual context, drawing important connections between postcolonial theory and poststructuralism, postmodernism, marxism and feminism. She assesses the contribution of major theorists such as Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha, and also points to postcolonialism's relationship to earlier thinkers such as Frantz Fanon and Mahatma Gandhi.The book is distinctive in its concern for the specific historical, material, and cultural contexts for postcolonial theory, and in its attempt to sketch out the ethical possibilities for postcolonial theory as a model for living with and knowing cultural difference non-violently.Postcolonial Tehory is a useful starting point for readers new to the field and a provocative account which opens possibilities for debate.
The book provides an overview of postcolonialism's pervasiveness in the academy, and lucidly illustrates the debates about the often conflicting consensus regarding the proper content, scope and relevance of its concerns. From its influence in Marxism and poststructuralism, from the work of Edward Said to Salman Rushdie, from feminist imperialism to globalization and hybridity, Gandhi demonstrates the ethical concern that postcolonial theory can offer: how to take into account diversity without erasing distinct diasporas of difference.
About the Author
Leela Gandhi is professor of English at the University of Chicago. She is the founding coeditor of the journal Postcolonial Studies and the author, most recently, of Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought and the Politics of Friendship.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Moral Imperfection: An Ethics for Democracy
1 After Virtue: The Strange Case of Belle Époque Socialist Antimaterialism
2 On Descent: Stories from the Gurus of Modern India
3 Elementary Virtues: Great War and the Crisis of European Man
4 Inconsequence: Some Little-Known Mutinies Around 1946
Epilogue: Paths of Ahimsaic Historiography
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