By Anshuman A. Mondal
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Extra resources for Amitav Ghosh
As a result, the cosmopolitanism of Enlightenment humanism, which 32 Amitav Ghosh the Bengali bhadralok received through the early Orientalist scholarship of William Jones, Henry Colebrooke and others, was juxtaposed with national particularism, creating a dialectic between the universal and the local that would be present in each discourse that emerged from the initial matrix of Bengali humanism, such as nationalism. 28 The Bengal Renaissance was a multi-dimensional cultural formation, and from it emerged several correlated ways of thinking that accompanied its humanism.
19 It is unsurprising, then, that postmodernism begins to emerge at this time among English-speaking intellectuals and artists as a cultural vocabulary through which the superseded discourses of Indian nationalism might be subjected to interrogation, for its basis is in critiques of the very concept of ‘representation’ itself, which in turn is correlated ideologically to a suspicion of grand narratives and the state. The convergence between a disavowal of Indian nationalism’s grand narratives, suspicion of the state, and postmodern theory has been most forcibly articulated by a group of radical revisionist historians with whom Amitav Ghosh has had close personal and professional ties.
Thus, his PhD dissertation, the essay ‘The Imam and the Indian’, and the historical article, ‘The Slave of MS. 6’ each have a different and significant relation to In an Antique Land; likewise, Dancing in Cambodia, At Large in Burma, and the reportage of ‘India’s Untold War of Independence’ both stand in an oblique yet complementary relation to The Glass Palace. The affiliations between them are clear, the boundaries dividing them less so. To a greater or lesser extent, all of Amitav Ghosh’s major works resonate with many of the preoccupations that have been marshalled under the rubric of ‘postmodernism’, a difficult and contentious term which has nevertheless proved useful as a label for a set of ideas, concepts, and cultural practices that mark it out as a distinct phenomenon.
Amitav Ghosh by Anshuman A. Mondal