Interpreting Insurgency: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent

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Friday, September 21st, 2018

Friday, September 21, 20183:00PM - 5:00PMRoom 616, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street
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This lecture is drawn from the introduction to my forthcoming study, Insurgent Empire: Anticolonialism and British Dissent. Against the grain of influential histories of empire as much postcolonial studies, I will make the case, ‘in a spirit of dialectics’, for lines of influence which run from periphery to metropole (as much as in the other direction). One axis, though not the only one, along which this question can be explored is that of dissent around the question of empire in Britain, with dissidents variously referred to as ‘critics of empire’, ‘imperial sceptics’ or British ‘anti-colonialists’. Without pretending that the field could ever have been level or lines of influence simply reciprocal given the constitutive power differential, I suggest that there was also an anticolonial impact from outside Europe on metropolitan thought, specifically, though not only, on British dissent around and criticism of the colonial project. Resistance to the colonial project in several parts of the British Empire in the nineteenth- and twentieth- centuries helped shape criticism of and opposition to the imperial project within Britain itself. That influence was not necessarily always ideational or to be solely assessed using the tools of intellectual history; it was often exercised by the practice of struggle and by crises occasioned by insurgency.


Priyamvada Gopal is University Reader in Anglophone and Related Literatures at the University of Cambridge. A professor in the School of English and Fellow of Churchill College, she is the author of Literary Radicalism in India (2005) and The Indian English Novel: Nation, History and Narration (2009). Her most recent study, Insurgent Empire: Anticolonialism and British Dissent, is forthcoming from Verso.


Priyamvada Gopal
Faculty of English, University of Cambridge


Asian Institute

Centre for South Asian Civilizations at UTM

Department of English

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