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:
Time, Space, and the ‘Primitive Within’

Show Summary Details


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. 

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.