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THE INTIMATE ENEMY
Loss and Recovery of Self
under Colonialism
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THE INTIMATE
ENEMY
Loss and Recovery of Self
under Colonialism
ASHIS NANDY
DELHI
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
BOMBAY CALCUTTA MADRAS
1983
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Oxford University Press, Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6DP
OXFORD NEW YORK TORONTO
DELHI BOMBAY CALCUTTA MADRAS KARACHI
KUALA LUMPUR SINGAPORE HONG KONG TOKYO
NAIROBI DAR ES SALAAM CAPE TOWN
MELBOURNE AUCKLAND MADRID
and associates in
BEIRUT BERLIN IBADAN MEXICO CITY NICOSIA
©Oxford University Press 1983
Printed in India by P.K.Ghosh
At Eastend Printers , 3 Dr. Suresh Sarkar Road , Calcutta 700014
And published by R. Dayal, Oxford University Press
2/11 Ansari Road , New Delhi 110002.
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To
Prafulla Nalini Nandy
and Sarala Nandy
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Contents
PREFACE
One
ix
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF COLONIALISM:
Sex, Age and Ideology in British India
Two
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THE UNCOLONIZED MIND:
A Post-Colonial View of India and the West
INDEX
64
115
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Preface
'Through a curious transposition peculiar to our times', Albert Camus once
wrote, 'it is innocence that is called upon to justify itself.' The two essays here
justify and defend the innocence which confronted modern Western
colonialism and its various psychological offshoots in India.
Modern colonialism won its great victories not so much through its
military and technological prowess as through its ability to create secular
hierarchies incompatible with the traditional order. These hierarchies opened
up new vistas for many, particularly for those exploited or cornered within
the traditional order. To them the new order looked like-and here lay its
psychological pull-the first step towards a more just and equal world. That
was why some of the finest critical minds in Europe-and in the East-were to
feel that colonialism, by introducing modern structures into the barbaric
world, would open up the non-West to the modern critic-analytic spirit. Like
the 'hideous heathen god who refused to drink nectar except from the skulls
of murdered men', Karl Marx felt, history would produce out of oppression,
violence and cultural dislocation not merely new technological and social
forces but also a new social consciousness in Asia and Africa. It would be
critical in the sense in which the Western tradition of social criticism-from
Vico to Marx-had been critical and it would be rational in the sense in which
post Cartesian Europe had been rational. It is thus that the a historical
primitives would one day, the expectation went, learn to see themselves as
masters of nature and, hence, as masters of their own fate.
Many many decades later, in the aftermath of that marvel of modern
technology called the Second World War and perhaps that modern encounter
of cultures called Vietnam, it has become
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obvious that the drive for mastery over men is not merely a by-product of a
faulty political economy but also of a world view which believes in the
absolute superiority of the human over the nonhuman and the subhuman, the
masculine over the feminine, the adult over the child, the historical over the
ahistorical, and the modern or progressive over the traditional or the savage.
It has become more and more apparent that genocides, ecodisasters and
ethnocides are but the underside of corrupt sciences and psychopathic
technologies wedded to new secular hierarchies, which have reduced major
civilizations to the status of a set of empty rituals. The ancient forces of
human greed and violence, one recognizes, have merely found a new
legitimacy in anthropocentric doctrines of secular salvation, in the ideologies
of progress, normality and hyper-masculinity, and in theories of cumulative
growth of science and technology.
This awareness has not made everyone give up his theory of progress but
it has given confidence to a few to look askance at the old universalism
within which the earlier critiques of colonialism were offered. It is now
possible for some to combine fundamental social criticism with a defence of
non-modern cultures and traditions. It is possible to speak of the plurality of
critical traditions and of human rationality. At long last we seem to have
recognized that neither is Descartes the last word on reason nor is Marx that
on the critical spirit.
The awareness has come at a time when the attack on the non-modern
cultures has become a threat to their survival. As this century with its
bloodstained record draws to a close, the nineteenth century dream of one