Cultural Affirmation of Non-Criminal Identity

Anindita Mukhopadhyay

in Behind The Mask

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780195680836
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080700 | DOI:
Cultural Affirmation of Non-Criminal Identity

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This chapter focuses on the assumptions of the bhadralok about the ideal nature of the rule of law, which fed into the construction of the nation. It deals with the development of a mindset of the educated middle classes under the specific conditions of colonial rule. It also looks at the new ways in which the status of a ‘subject’ underwent a change under the dual play of a Western rationalistic discourse, filtered by indigenous perceptions during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The hierarchical high status of the bhadralok clashed with the principle of ‘equality before law’. Hence its culture- and class-specific reaction to the colonial legal and penal institutions came both at the cultural and intellectual levels, as it sought, as a class, to push the colonial levers of control away from itself. The chapter examines plays such as ‘Neel-Darpan’, ‘Jail Darpan’, and ‘Karagar’ as mirrors of the prevailing social and political conditions.

Keywords: bhadralok; rule of law; equality before law; colonial rule; Neel-Darpan; Jail Darpan; Karagar; penal institutions; Western rationalistic discourse

Chapter.  14110 words. 

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