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THE PRE-COLONIAL IMAGINED BOUNDARIES

THE PRE-COLONIAL IMAGINED BOUNDARIES

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2006. “The Pre-colonial Imagined boundaries” Adhir Chakroborty Memorial Lecture. Centre for Archaeological Training and Research. Govt. of W.B. 08/12/06. (INVITED)
This paper was an account of pre-colonial symbolic distributions of imagined boundaries in the geo-political construct called “India” and it is also a response to the Partha Chatterji- Amartya Sen polemic regarding the pre-colonial (non-/)existence of Indian model. Partha Chatterji raised the following question: “If nationalism in the rest of the world have to choose their imagined community from certain ‘modular’ forms already made available to them by Europe and the Americas, what do they have left to imagine?….” (Chatterji, 1993:5, emphasis added)The question, raised by Chatterji may lead us to a reading that as a so-called third world subalterns, we do not have any imagined model and we, as a colonial subject, are only aping the dominant domain. In response to this, Sen commented: “The conceptual forms of ‘the nation as an imagined community’, which Anderson peruses, may not have much to commend it (I personally think that it does—but this is a different issue), but the fear that its western origin would leave us without a model that is our ‘own’ is a somewhat peculiar concern.” (1996: 17-18, fn. 13)Chatterji’s question (“…what do they have left to imagine?….”) inaugurates the question of “rem(a)inder” (in Lacanian sense of the term) in the context of colonial subjectivity, which is, though destroyed by the imposed imagined symbolic order, constructs its imagined “real(-ity)” as rem(a)inder through some so-called “mythical”, “spiritual” (thus un-“scientific” from the perspective of enlightened gaze) constructions. The author will try to discuss three evidences of pre-colonial imagined boundary-constructions in the context of Southeast Asia in connection with Chatterji-Sen debate. (A) Fragmented Body of the Holy Mother: Bharat is a body—a female body—Sati’s (The holy mother goddess, Siva’s wife) body-parts are scattered all over India—these female organs are worshipped in different (almost 51, though numbers differ in different puranas as well as in some marginal printed documents as found in site of different sati-pithas ) Indian tirthas. Thus, we have found Bharat as an imagined integration of corporeal-state. If the different distributions of different scattered body-parts are to be put into the map, that cartographical as well as symbolical account of iso-corporeal ( cf. isopleth, isoline, isogram or isothirm) gives us an integrated picture of imagined boundary. stalker would not venture to attest empirically the archival values of the “real” documents (as it was investigated by some empirical historians in the case of Ramjanmobhoomi), but will try to unfold the discourses of puranas as well as marginal documents. The presence or absence of the Sati’s body-part in the certain part of the territory is not his concern. (B) The celebration of Mela: Certain Southeast Asian aquatic regions are selected in connection with certain configurations in the celestial sphere (though, one must remember, the placement of constellation does not follow contemporary astronomical account) to celebrate ritualistic fairs. Pilgrims from different part of South-East Asia gather (in which “language” do they communicate?) in the particular region and they are forming certain type of symbolic solidarity. What is noticeable here is the association among geographical region, aquatic region and celestial sphere. The gathering of different margis (
2006. “The Pre-colonial Imagined boundaries” Adhir Chakroborty Memorial Lecture. Centre for Archaeological Training and Research. Govt. of W.B. 08/12/06. (INVITED)
This paper was an account of pre-colonial symbolic distributions of imagined boundaries in the geo-political construct called “India” and it is also a response to the Partha Chatterji- Amartya Sen polemic regarding the pre-colonial (non-/)existence of Indian model. Partha Chatterji raised the following question: “If nationalism in the rest of the world have to choose their imagined community from certain ‘modular’ forms already made available to them by Europe and the Americas, what do they have left to imagine?….” (Chatterji, 1993:5, emphasis added)The question, raised by Chatterji may lead us to a reading that as a so-called third world subalterns, we do not have any imagined model and we, as a colonial subject, are only aping the dominant domain. In response to this, Sen commented: “The conceptual forms of ‘the nation as an imagined community’, which Anderson peruses, may not have much to commend it (I personally think that it does—but this is a different issue), but the fear that its western origin would leave us without a model that is our ‘own’ is a somewhat peculiar concern.” (1996: 17-18, fn. 13)Chatterji’s question (“…what do they have left to imagine?….”) inaugurates the question of “rem(a)inder” (in Lacanian sense of the term) in the context of colonial subjectivity, which is, though destroyed by the imposed imagined symbolic order, constructs its imagined “real(-ity)” as rem(a)inder through some so-called “mythical”, “spiritual” (thus un-“scientific” from the perspective of enlightened gaze) constructions. The author will try to discuss three evidences of pre-colonial imagined boundary-constructions in the context of Southeast Asia in connection with Chatterji-Sen debate. (A) Fragmented Body of the Holy Mother: Bharat is a body—a female body—Sati’s (The holy mother goddess, Siva’s wife) body-parts are scattered all over India—these female organs are worshipped in different (almost 51, though numbers differ in different puranas as well as in some marginal printed documents as found in site of different sati-pithas ) Indian tirthas. Thus, we have found Bharat as an imagined integration of corporeal-state. If the different distributions of different scattered body-parts are to be put into the map, that cartographical as well as symbolical account of iso-corporeal ( cf. isopleth, isoline, isogram or isothirm) gives us an integrated picture of imagined boundary. stalker would not venture to attest empirically the archival values of the “real” documents (as it was investigated by some empirical historians in the case of Ramjanmobhoomi), but will try to unfold the discourses of puranas as well as marginal documents. The presence or absence of the Sati’s body-part in the certain part of the territory is not his concern. (B) The celebration of Mela: Certain Southeast Asian aquatic regions are selected in connection with certain configurations in the celestial sphere (though, one must remember, the placement of constellation does not follow contemporary astronomical account) to celebrate ritualistic fairs. Pilgrims from different part of South-East Asia gather (in which “language” do they communicate?) in the particular region and they are forming certain type of symbolic solidarity. What is noticeable here is the association among geographical region, aquatic region and celestial sphere. The gathering of different margis (

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay on Mar 02, 2012
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06/30/2012

 
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