Invention of the Other

Levine traces the development of British influence in India over the decades. What struck me the most is how the British treated India as a monogamous entity that is largely static. There were many cultural and religious practices across India, however the EIC (or the British government) often ignored or missed these differences. As a result, many policies such as the banning of suttees backfired.

The inability of the colonialist to react to a diverse India seems to suggest the colonialist’s own insecurities- it needs to invent an ‘other’ to define its own identity. Furthermore,  the ‘other’ must also be stable, in order for the colonialist to establish a secure identity for itself. It seems as though the colonialists were unable to establish for themselves an independent and stable identity, apart from the colony. In this sense, the perception of these colonies; and the constant comparison between self and the ‘other’ shaped the identity of the colonialist. In other words, they began to understand themselves vis-a-vis their own perceptions of their colonies.

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