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Prathama Banerjee: A Critique Now Book Forum

7 June 2023
2.00pm – 4.00pm AEST
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Drawing on Indian philosophies and practices from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Prathama Banerjee identifies four elements of the political: the self, action, the idea, and the people.

She examines selfhood in light of precolonial Indic traditions of renunciation and realpolitik:

  • Action in the constitutive tension between traditional conceptions of karma and modern ideas of labour
  • Equality as an idea it emerges in the dialectic between spirituality and economics
  • The people in the friction between the structure of the political party and the atmospherics of fiction and theatre. 

Throughout, Banerjee reasserts the historical specificity of political thought and challenges modern assumptions about the universality, primacy, and self-evidence of the political.

In formulating a new theory of the political, Banerjee gestures toward a globally salient political philosophy that displaces prevailing Western notions of the political masquerading as universal. 

Professor Banerjee will be in conversation with Critique Now associates Dr. Minerva Inwald, Sonia Qadir,  and Octaviano Arruda.




Prathama Banerjee is a historian at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi.  She works at the cusp of literary theory, cultural history and political philosophy, and is currently engaged in researching the role of economic concepts in democratic politics in 20th-century India.  Banerjee is the author of The Politics of Time: 'primitives' and history-writing in a colonial society (Oxford University Press, 2006) and Elementary Aspects of the Political: histories from the global south (Duke University Press, 2020).