Negotiating the Modern
Orientalism and Indianness in the Anglophone World
By Amit Ray
Routledge – 2006 – 200 pages
This book explicates long-standing literary celebrations of 'India' and 'Indian-ness' by charting a cultural history of Indianness in the Anglophone world, locating moments (in intellectual, religious and cultural history) where India and Indianness are offered up as solutions to modern moral, ethical and political questions in the 'West.' Beginning in the early 1800s, South Asians actively seek to occupy and modify spaces created by the scholarly discourses of Orientalism: the study of the East (‘Orient’) via Western (‘European’) epistemological frameworks. Tracing the varying fortunes of Orientalist scholars from the inception of British rule, this study charts the work of key Indologists in the colonial era. The rhetorical constructions of East and West deployed by both colonizer and colonized, as well as attempts to synthesize or transcend such constructions, became crucial to conceptions of the ‘modern.’ Eventually, Indian desire for political sovereignty together with the deeply racialized formations of imperialism produced a shift in the dialogic relationship between South Asia and Europe that had been initiated and sustained by orientalists. This impetus pushed scholarly discourse about India in Europe, North America and elsewhere, out of what had been a direct role in politics and theology and into high ‘Literary’ culture.
1. After Empire: British Orientalism in Decline 2. Orientalism, Antiquity and the Beginnings of British Colonial Rule in India: The Textual Basis of Early Orientalism—Hastings, Jones, Mill 3. Orienalism, Vedanta and Indian Modernity: Raja Rammohan Ray on Sanskritic Antiquity 4. Colonial Divides and Shared Orientalisms: Kipling and Tagore in the World 5. Modernist Orientalism and Empathetic Subjectivity: Mrs. Dalloway and the Discontents of Modernity Notes Bibliography Index
Amit Ray is Assistant Professor of Literature at Rochester Institute of Technology. His recent work has appeared in the International Journal of the Humanities, The New Dictionary of the History of Ideas and the collection, Romantic Orientalism, edited by Michael J. Franklin.