Partha Chatterjee

Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, August 2016


This paper looks at nationalism, internationalism, and cosmopolitanism as an interconnected triad of political ideas and movements in twentieth-century India. Militant Indian nationalists and communists created a distinction between the internationalism of empire and that of the anticolonial national movements. In the period of the Cold War and decolonization, a movement among nonaligned countries sought to preserve the legacy of anticolonial internationalism. Until the 1960s, the violation of human rights was largely seen as related to the persistence of colonial rule and racial discrimination. Contemporary proposals for a cosmopolitan order frequently reject the legacy of anticolonial nationalism and appeal to the tradition of the liberal internationalism of empire. Specific global movements that point to future transnational political arrangements are an important new development, but they do not yet offer a blueprint for a cosmopolitical order. Compared to the historical legacy of anticolonial nationalism in countries like India, the appeal of cosmopolitanism is limited.

Read the full article here: Nationalism, Internationalism, and Cosmopolitanism: Some Observations from Modern Indian History