This is a work of South Asian intellectual history written from a transnational perspective and based on the life and work of M.N. Roy, one of India’s most formidable Marxist intellectuals. Swadeshi revolutionary, co-founder of the Mexican Communist Party, member of the Communist International Presidium, and a major force in the rise of Indian communism, M.N. Roy was a colonial cosmopolitan icon of the interwar years. Exploring the intellectual production of this important thinker, this book traces the historical context of his ideas from 19th-century Bengal to Weimar Germany, through the tumultuous period of world politics in the 1930s and 1940s, and on to post-Independence India.
In this book the author makes a number of valuable theoretical contributions. He argues for the importance of conceiving the ‘deterritorial’ zones of thought and action through which Indian anti-colonial political thought operated, and advances a new periodisation for Swadeshi on this basis. He also argues against viewing ‘international communism’ of the 1920s as a single monolith by highlighting the fractures and contestations that influenced colonial politics worldwide.
A fresh and insightful perspective on the history of India in the interwar years, this book will be of great interest to scholars and students of the modern history of South and East Asia, America and Europe, and to those interested in anti-colonial struggles, Communist politics and trajectories of Marxist thought in the 20th century.
This series explores the intellectual history of South Asia through the lives and ideas of significant individuals within a historical context. These 'pathfinders' are seen to represent a break with existing traditions, canons and inherited histories. In fact, even the idea of South Asia with its constituent regions and linguistic and religious divisions maybe thrown into crisis as we explore the idea of territory as generated by thought. It is not cartographic limits that determine thinking but the imagining of elective affinities across space, time and borders. These thinkers are necessarily cosmopolitan and engage with a miscegenation of ideas that recasts existing notions of schools of thinking, of the archive for a history of ideas, and indeed of the very notion of national and regional limits to intellectual activity. The books in this series try to think beyond the limited frameworks of colonialism and nationalism for the modern period and more generally of histories of societies that are told through the prism of the state, its institutions and ideologies.
These slim volumes written by leading scholars are intended for the intelligent layperson and expert alike, and written in an accessible, lively and authoritative prose. Through telling the lives of celebrated names and lesser known ones in context, this series will expand the repertoire of ideas and individuals that have shaped the history and culture of South Asia.