A Colonial Genealogy of the Modern State

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Friday, September 28th, 2018

Friday, September 28, 20184:00PM - 6:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
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Recent years have witnessed an increased attention to specifying the characteristics of the colonial state, largely focused on outlining its distinctiveness. Two epistemological frames subtend most inquiries: first, replicating the Weberian view that the state is a territorially circumscribed entity, analyses of the state are also similarly circumscribed. Second, if implicitly, the normative horizon of the inquiries is the European modern state. While recognizing the value and, oftentimes, the necessity, of studies conceived in territorially delimited terms, this paper suggests we need to develop pathways to address the coproduction of the coeval formations of colonial state and the modern state. Through an assessment of state control of colonial Indian migration, it argues that important features of historical state formation are obscured when analyses assume a presentist territorial closure, that modern elements are embedded in the colonial state form, and that a colonial dimension is an integral aspect of the modern state form, globally.


Radhika Mongia is Associate Professor of Sociology and faculty with the graduate programs in Sociology, Political Science, Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies, and Social and Political Thought at York University. She is the author of Indian Migration and Empire: A Colonial Genealogy of the Modern State (Duke University Press, 2018).


Dasha Kuznetsova
(416) 946-8996


Francis Cody
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and the Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Toronto

Radhika Mongia
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, York University


Centre for South Asian Studies


Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies

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