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18 Sep
1 Washington Place
Sep 18, 2014 | 6:30 PM-8:00 PM

Distinguished Faculty Lecture


Distinguished Faculty Lecture with Partha Chatterjee (Response by Arjun Appadurai)

Nationalism, Internationalism and Cosmopolitanism: Some Lessons from Modern Indian History

This discussion examines in the context of 20th-century India the trajectories of three tendencies (nationalism, internationalism, cosmopolitanism) as an interconnected triad. Militant nationalism, especially the armed revolutionary groups, established connections with anti-colonial and anti-British forces in other parts of the world. By the 1920s, the nation-state and the principle of popular sovereignty came to be recognized as the universally normal form of the modern state. The Communist International introduced the novel idea of oppressor and oppressed nations in a world order of nation-states. This was carried forward after formal decolonization in the 1950s by the non-aligned movement. The normative goal of internationalism became the establishment of a civic constitution for the world based on the formal equality of nation-states. Given this history of nationalism and internationalism, cosmopolitanism as a normative principle seems to have limited appeal in the political sphere unless it can engage with the unequal power relations between oppressor and oppressed nations.

Partha Chatterjee is Professor of Anthropology and Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies (MESAAS) and founding member of The Committee for Global Thought at Columbia University. A political theorist and historian, he studied at Presidency College in Calcutta, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. He divides his time between Columbia University and the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, where he was the Director from 1997 to 2007. He is the author of more than twenty books, monographs and edited volumes and is a founding member of the Subaltern Studies Collective. He was awarded the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize for 2009 for outstanding achievements in the field of Asian studies. His books include: The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power (2012); Lineages of Political Society: Studies in Postcolonial Democracy (2011); Empire and Nation: Selected Essays (2010); The Politics of the Governed: Considerations on Political Society in Most of the World (2004); A Princely Impostor? The Strange and Universal History of the Kumar of Bhawal (2002); A Possible India: Essays in Political Criticism (1997); The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (1993), and Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse? (1993). He is also a poet, playwright, and actor.


Arjun Appadurai is the Goddard Professor in Media, Culture and Communication in The Steinhardt School at New York University, where he is also Senior Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge. He serves as Tata Chair Professor at The Tata Institute for Social Sciences in Mumbai and as a Senior Research Partner at the Max-Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Gottingen. He was previously John Dewey Distinguished Professor in the Social Sciences at The New School, serving as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at The New School from 2004-2006. Having held numerous appointments at Yale, the University of Chicago where he received his PHD, and the University of Pennsylvania, Professor Appadurai is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also founder and now the President of PUKAR (Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research), a non-profit organization based in Mumbai, where he was born, raised and studied. He has authored numerous scholarly articles and books, including most recently The Future as a Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition (2013); Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger (2006) and Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (1996).