Chapter

Time, Space, and the ‘Primitive Within’

Prathama Benerjee

in Politics of Time

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780195681567
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081677 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195681567.003.0002
Time, Space, and the ‘Primitive Within’

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This chapter covers the relationship between the project of imagining the nation as continuous history and the experiences of the discontinuous, anomic everyday of late nineteenth-century Bengal. Bengali history-writing came to be forged in the nineteenth century through inversion as the primary mode of opposition to colonialism. In nineteenth-century Bengali imagination, the ‘primitive within’ became the clue that could account for the defeat and disunity of the nation and at the same time, emancipate the nation’s historical identity from the shame of subordination. Historical consciousness in colonial Bengal continued to be marred by an irresoluble tension between the sense of the subject-self and the sense of the ‘primitive’ but spatially proximate other. Caste emerged as a particularly useful category of temporal resolution in Bengali discourses. Dream-history cannot occupy the same time as the evident and the illuminated. But dream-history returns over and over again.

Keywords: primitive within; Bengal; colonialism; caste; dream-history; nation

Chapter.  16211 words. 

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