Imagining India
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Imagining India

Ronald Inden
Distribution: North America
Publication date: 1/22/2010
Format: paper 312 pages
6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-21358-7
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"An important book, a major work, that must be read and absorbed by those involved in scholarship, or any critical enterprise." —The Independent

How does the Western world represent India? To what extent is knowledge of the people and institutions of the Indian sub-continent based on the West's own desires for world hegemony, and fantasies about its rationality? In this controversial and widely-praised book, Inden argues that the West's major depictions of India as the civilization of caste, villages, spiritualism, and divine kings—and as a land dominated by imagination rather than reason—have had the effect of depriving Indians of their capacity to rule their world, which has consequently been appropriated by those in the West who wish to dominate it.

First published in 1990, Imagining India is required reading in many university courses. This edition contains a new introduction.

Author Bio

Ronald Inden is Professor of South Asian History at the University of Chicago.

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Table of Contents

Plan of the Book

1 Knowledge of India and Human Agency


Agents: Systems of Overlapping Classes

Orientalist Discourse
2 India in Asia: The Caste Society

The Orients

Empirical, Real India: The Ruling Ideas

Romantic India

Dissenting and Changing Views
3 Hinduism: The Mind of India

Male Manager, Female Jungle: European Science and

Indian Religion

Psychic Origins

Brahmanism, the Aryan Mind in the Tropics

Hinduism, Symbols for the People

Medieval Decline, The Dravidian Mind


Jungians and Structuralists: Today's Variants

Critical Summary
4 Village India, Living Essence of the Ancient

Idyllic Communities

Organic Inside, Atomic Outside

Caste's Political Economy

Nationalist and Post-Independence Depictions

5 Divine Kingship, the Hindu Type of Government

Nation State, Natural State

Absolute Monarchy, Instrument of the Caste


Clan Monarchy, the Post-tribal State

Imperial Monarchy, Western Order int he East

Imperial Death and National Rebirth

Independence and the Discovery of the Third

6 Reconstructions

From Patients to Agents

The Imperial Formation of the Rashtrakutas

Conquering the Quarters

Concluding Remarks