Lecture on Indian Thought, Nationalism and Modernity – Sept. 16

Anxieties of Reason: Nationalism and the Emergence of Modernity in India Dr. Makarand Paranjape (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India) Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 5:30-6:30 pm McMichael 115 RECEPTION TO FOLLOW

India’s tryst with modernity was complicated by colonialism. The distortion and humiliation of being a subject people induced in English-educated Indians a tremendous anxiety to prove their worthiness to enter the condition and estate of modernity. This class staked their claim primarily through the nationalist project, which was their answer to the depredations of colonialism. Indians resorted to cultural and civilizational tropes to assert, on the one hand, their difference from the modern West. On the other hand, by embracing rationality, science, and several Enlightenment values, they attempted to avow how deserving they were of liberty, dignity, and equality. Crucial to the emergence of modernity in India was not only the idea of a pre-colonial, worthy past, but also a vision of a pluralistic post-colonial alter-nation, different from nations in Europe and elsewhere. Equally important was what might be termed the re-placement of reason, respecting it, but reserving the highest epistemological status for transcendental and integrative wisdom. Referring to the work of key thinkers and change agents from Rammohun Roy to Mahatma Gandhi, this talk tries to offer a new way of understanding the making of modern India.

Makarand R. Paranjape is Professor of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University. He twice served as Department Chair, is Principal Investigator of a long-standing project on “Indian Perspectives on Science and Spirituality,” and is also the project leader of the interdisciplinary research group, “Asian Crossroads: Indic Neighbourhoods, Global Connections.” His latest work includes The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi (London: Routledge, 2014; New Delhi: Penguin Random House, 2015) and Making India: Colonialism, National Culture, and Indian English Authority (Dordrecht: Springer, 2013; New Delhi: Amaryllis, 2015).

Co-sponsors:  The Advanced Perspectives on Science and Religion Project supported by the John Templeton Foundation, and the Elon University Asian Studies Program