The Political Legacy of Colonialism in South Asia

Nandini Gooptu

in India and the British Empire

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199259885
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744587 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series

The Political Legacy of Colonialism in South Asia

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This chapter explores the political legacy of colonialism in South Asia, with a focus on the state, democracy and identity politics, and discusses how the colonial inheritance has been understood from different analytical perspectives. Colonial political institutions and practices that have persisted in the post-colonial context are identified, followed by an enquiry into the reasons for their perpetuation. The causes are sought in the political dynamics of independent nations, rather than viewing the colonial legacy as a direct and uncomplicated transfer from the Raj without the possibility of alternative outcomes. The role of elites and their political motivations and strategies are juxtaposed against the significance of subaltern politics and pressures from below in determining the nature of continuity and change. The chapter interrogates the constitutive role of colonialism in shaping the nature of post-colonial politics and proposes a contextualised historical analysis of the legacy of colonialism in its many and varied manifestations and appropriations by South Asian political actors.

Keywords: colonial legacy; democracy; authoritarianism; constitution; modern state; development; caste; identity politics; popular politics

Chapter.  8403 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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