By Dipesh Chakrabarty
In Habitations of Modernity, Dipesh Chakrabarty explores the complexities of modernism in India and seeks ideas of humaneness grounded in daily life which may elude grand political theories. The questions that encourage Chakrabarty are shared by means of all postcolonial historians and anthropologists: How can we take into consideration the legacy of the eu Enlightenment in lands faraway from Europe in geography or historical past? How will we envision methods of being smooth that talk to what's shared all over the world, in addition to to cultural range? How can we withstand the tendency to justify the violence accompanying triumphalist moments of modernity?Chakrabarty pursues those matters in a chain of heavily associated essays, starting from a background of the influential Indian sequence Subaltern reviews to examinations of particular cultural practices in smooth India, equivalent to using khadi—Gandhian variety of dress—by male politicians and the politics of civic realization in public areas. He concludes with issues of the moral dilemmas that come up whilst one writes on behalf of social justice tasks.
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Extra resources for Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies
There are parís of sociery that remain opaque to che theoretical gaze of the modem analyst. Why a history of cultural practices will scize on a particular practice-espeeially a practice of eruelty and/or violente-and elaborare many of its own themes around it is a question that cannot be answered by the social sciences. It is also in Chis literal sense, then, it scems ro me, rhat cultural practices have a dark side. We cannor see luto rhem, nor everywhere. In saying Chis, then,1 oppose the liberal modernists, whose investig',ttive methods, not only treat the iuvestigator as transparent, but also assume that socierv itsclf is such a transparent object that thcy can look finto its heart and find an explanatorv kev (in class, patriarclav, technol- 1 46 / CHAPTER THREE MODERNITY AND THE PAST / 47 ogy).
36 What will history written in Chis mode look like? 1 cannot say, for one cannot write Chis history in a puye forro. The languages of Che stare, of eitizenship, of wholes and totalities, thc legacy of Enlighrenment rationalism, will always cut across it. I was only pointing to a utopian line that may weil designare thc limit of how we are trained to think. But Chis does not otean that Chis limit does not cxist at all. We know about its existente indirectly, when We come across historical evidente that docs 'ot casily fit our categories .
Such traditionalism rcactivcly demvstlfies modernity to remvstifv traditions.... Likewise, one may concur u ith Coomaraswanrv that Che untouchables in traditional India werc bettcr off than Che proletariat in tlic industrial societies. But this would be an empty statement to those victimized by the caste system today. When many untouchables opt for proletarianization in contemporary India, is their choice merely a function of faulry self-knowledge? 1 am afraid Coomaraswamy's traditionalism, despite being holistic by design, does flor allow a creative, critical use of modernity within traditions.