Hating Empire Properly: The Two Indies and the Limits of Enlightenment Anticolonialism
Winner of the 2014 Harry Levin Prize In Hating Empire Properly, Sunil Agnani produces a novel attempt to think the eighteenth-century imagination of the West and East Indies together, arguing that this is how contemporary thinkers Edmund Burke and Denis Diderot actually viewed them. This concern with multiple geographical spaces is revealed to be a largely unacknowledged part of the matrix of Enlightenment thought in which eighteenth-century European and American self-conceptions evolved. By focusing on colonial spaces of the Enlightenment, especially India and Haiti, he demonstrates how Burke's fearful view of the French Revolution-the defining event of modernity-was shaped by prior reflection on these other domains. Exploring with sympathy the angry outbursts against injustice in the writings of Diderot, he nonetheless challenges recent understandings of him as a univocal critic of empire by showing the persistence of a fantasy of consensual colonialism in his thought. By looking at the impasses and limits in the thought of both radical and conservative writers, Agnani asks what it means to critique empire "properly." Drawing his method from Theodor Adorno's quip that "one must have tradition in oneself, in order to hate it properly," he proposes a critical inhabiting of dominant forms of reason as a way forward for the critique of both empire and Enlightenment. Thus, this volume makes important contributions to political theory, history, literary studies, American studies, and postcolonial studies.
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Adorno America ancien régime anticolonial argues argument Bengal Black Jacobins Britain British Burke’s Burke’s thought Burke’s writings C. L. R. James Cambridge University Press chapter Chicago cited colonial commerce conquest constitution context critique Culture Denis Diderot despotism deux Indes discourse discussion Domingue earlier East India Bill East India Company Edmund Burke eighteenth century emphasis empire England English Enlightenment Europe European example Foucault French Revolution Haitian Revolution Histoire des deux History Hottentots Ibid idea impeachment imperial island J. G. A. Pocock language letter liberty London manner modernity nation native nature O’Brien Oeuvres oriental Oxford University Press Parliament passage period philosophes Pocock population postcolonial Princeton principle question Raynal reader reading reason rebellion reference Reflections regarding relation remark ressentiment Revolution in France revolutionaries Rousseau slavery slaves society Speech on Fox’s Supplément term Toussaint Toussaint Louverture understanding Warren Hastings West Indies World Writings and Speeches York