Debt, Time, and Extravagance

Prathama Benerjee

in Politics of Time

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780195681567
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081677 | DOI:
Debt, Time, and Extravagance

Show Summary Details


This chapter illustrates how Santals and Paharias were physically and territorially fenced in by the colonial rulers, so that they could no longer interact directly with the rest of the indigenous society. It also investigates the emergence of indebtedness as the definitional sign of the ‘primitive’ in colonial Bengal. The colonial authorities argued that Paharias did not exhibit the intrinsic ‘primordiality’ of the Santals. Santals qualified to a ‘primitive’ status in a way in which the Paharias, organically entrenched in their lands, could never have. The nineteenth-century Santal experience of money was primarily an experience of indebtedness. Their indebtedness was not just an economic indebtedness of the ‘backward’ to the ‘advanced’, but a non-dischargeable and total debt that the non-present owed to the re-presenting authority, for bringing it forward, against nature, to appear in a time not its own.

Keywords: Santals; Paharias; colonial Bengal; primitive; money; indebtedness

Chapter.  14866 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.