Revolutionary Nationalism and “Terrorism” in India and Abroad: Is Fundamentalism its Inevitable Telos?

History 103F.001

Spring 2018
2231 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Tu 2-4
Class Number: 

In the early years of the twentieth century, British colonial rule in India faced a powerful new threat to its authority. All through the previous century colonial rule had been resisted mainly by peasants and landed gentry whose concerns had to do with the effects of colonial reformulations of land tenure. Colonial efforts in India of the previous fifty years had been aimed at producing the loyal educated, Indian native. But in the twentieth century, with the educated native emerging as the dangerous individual in need of surveillance, the fundamental incompatibility between colonial occupation and liberal ideology could no longer be hidden.

As early as 1835, in his Educational Minute, Lord Macaulay had made clear that the aim of English education was to "raise up an English-educated middle class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern - a class of persons Indian in colour and blood, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.” There were certainly many among the first generation of English-educated Indians who acknowledged some of the benefits of English rule. Even so, Dadabhai Naoroji, the father of Indian economic nationalism, castigated colonial rulers for behaving in “unBritish” ways in India. But the criticism was less directed at colonial rule per se than at unfair colonial practices. This was to change. Within one generation, gratitude was replaced by anger. Born in India, often of first generation Western educated fathers, second generation educated Indians too went to England, and read English law, history, and philosophy. But they came back with radical politics.

In this course, we will read some of the primary texts that so inspired these young nationalists, primary texts written by Indian nationalists, as well as secondary works dealing with Indian, Irish, Turkish, Israeli, Palestinian, Mexican and Russian political thought, Irish revolutionary nationalism. The aim of the course is to think through some of the issues confronted by scholars attempting to write an “Indian intellectual history” that incorporates some of the thinkers who were on the “wrong” side of Indian nationalism. The aim of the course is also to situate Indian nationalism in an international milieu and to examine the particular manifestation of it as revolutionary “terrorism” and whether that inexorably leads to political fundamentalism.