Decolonizing Capital: Indian Political Economy in the Shadow of Empire

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


One of the great unfulfilled tasks of colonial and postcolonial history is to account for the divergent forms of capitalist development across the world that are not crudely attributed to some form of dependency on the ‘West’ or a Namierite perspective which privileges the material self-interest of economic, political and feudal elites. How do we recapture the intellectual and cultural agency of economic thinkers in the global South? This chapter will use the case study of colonial South Asia to show how a group of pioneering intellectuals from the four corners of the Subcontinent sought to challenge the intellectual foundations of colonial capitalism in order to imagine an alternative capitalist future in which racial, religious and cultural asymmetries between coloniser and colonised, but also between Indians themselves, were equalised. The various individuals discussed in this chapter, while they did not agree on every issue, nonetheless collectively formulated a capitalist political economy for India that was refracted through India’s feudal social relationships, its religious tensions, and ostensibly ‘pre-modern’ political structures. Thus, capitalist ideas (and ‘developmentalism’), did not diffuse from ‘West’ to ‘East’, nor were they casually adapted to suit Indian political exigencies; on the contrary, they were reinvented within the South Asian life-world. In adopting this Indian political thought approach, his chapter not only revises our perspective on capitalism in India but also lights the way for further such studies in the rest of the postcolonial world.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Economics of Empire
Subtitle of host publicationGenealogies of Capital and the Colonial Encounter
EditorsMaureen E. Ruprecht Fadem, Michael O'Sullivan
ISBN (Print)9780367425746
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

Publication series

NamePostcolonial Politics

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