Two Variants of Populist Politics: United States and India

with Partha Chatterjee

September 29, 2017 • 2:30 – 3:30PM

Columbia University, Lerner Hall, Room 569

Open only to undergraduates

  • Partha Chatterjee, Professor of Anthropology and Professor of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University; Member of The Committee on Global Thought

Join Professor Partha Chatterjee for a conversation on “Two Variants of Populist Politics: United States and India.” The Talks with Professors series allows undergraduate students to engage in casual and meaningful conversations with distinguished scholars in a laid-back, informal setting.

About the Speaker

Partha Chatterjee is a Professor of Anthropology and of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University and a Professor of Political Science at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Calcutta, India. Partha Chatterjee is a political theorist and historian. He studied at Presidency College in Calcutta, and received his PhD 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.

A major focus of Partha Chatterjee’s work is nationalism, but in order to follow his thoughts on this topic, one must simultaneously think also of colonialism, post-colonialism, modernity, and the idea of the nation-state, and also summon up, simultaneously with that cluster of concepts, a not-nationalist and counter-colonial viewpoint about what these terms actually represent (or could actually represent), with special reference to India. One of Chatterjee’s basic arguments is that the concept of nation-state is one formed in Western social scientific thought, and thus it may not even work for all states as the given it is often taken to be. The practical problem (according to Chatterjee) is that post-colonial administrators adopted the paradigm of nation-state and thus blinded themselves to new possibilities of thinking outside Western categories. These new possibilities are what Chatterjee is striving for. Chatterjee also studies issues of national borders, sovereignty, citizenship, welfare and democracy. Chatterjee was a founding member of the subaltern studies group of historians.

He is the author of more than twenty books, monographs and edited volumes. His books include: 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. In the Mira Nair film The Namesake (2007), he played the role of “A Reformed Hindoo.”


This Talks with Professors event takes place at Columbia University, Lerner Hall, Jed D. Satow Room. Please check back if any updates occur to the location.

About the UCGT

The Undergraduate Committee on Global Thought (UCGT) is a student association that engages the Columbia undergraduate community in conversations and initiatives examining issues of global importance. With faculty collaboration, UCGT members plan public events, organize workshops with university faculty, and foster undergraduate global education.

The UCGT is open to students from Columbia’s four undergraduate schools: Columbia and Barnard Colleges, the Schools of General Studies and Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Learn more about the UCGT.