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Hating Empire ProperlyThe Two Indies and the Limits of Enlightenment Anticolonialism$
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Sunil M. Agnani

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251803

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251803.001.0001

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/ Between France and India in 1790: Custom and Arithmetic Reason in a Country of Conquest

/ Between France and India in 1790: Custom and Arithmetic Reason in a Country of Conquest

(p.69) 3 / Between France and India in 1790: Custom and Arithmetic Reason in a Country of Conquest
Hating Empire Properly

Sunil M. Agnani

Fordham University Press

Chapter 3 considers links between Burke's writings and anticolonial thought (and Raynal), arguing that Burke's writings on India and France are related and even deeply intertwined concerns, rather than merely chronologically contemporary. Burke's underlying disquiet had to do with the question of societies undergoing a complete transformation and whether this was an upheaval to be desired or dreaded. It argues that in both the Indian and the French cases, Burke's response was one of fear: fear of the emergence of class mobility, unfettered by the regulating social customs of Europe and enabled by the space of the colonies. Burke views France and India as having suffered from a “conquest”: he views the Jacobins as treating France as a country of conquest virtually indistinguishable from a colonial occupation. Conceptually, there is a surprising link between Burke's critique of French Enlightenment thought, expressed in such terms as “arithmetic reason” (used disparagingly), and his image of the colony. Modernity involves estrangement, and relates to Burke's argument against defining the notion of the citizen in the abstract. Burke argues against an emerging colonial modernity in India being created by the East India Company and the estranged, placeless modernity the Jacobins were establishing in France.

Keywords:   Revolution, Custom, Sympathy, Conquest, Instrumental reason, Despotism, Modernity, Cosmopolitanism, Jacobinism

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