This talk returns to the scene of excitement that comprised the topic labelled ‘On the Colonization of India’ in the newspapers and journals of 1829, focusing tightly on this issue of ‘colonization’ alone, exploring the arguments for and against free trade in the run up to the renewal of the East India Company’s charter in 1833 as they unfolded in Calcutta. The objective is to gesture toward the complexity and referential instability of the archives as they are used in historical research, and more broadly, to read the moment as it took place in Calcutta in 1829 without large generalizations from the vantage point of historical narratives of empire, free trade, or the Indian ‘renaissance’, emphasizing instead local perspectives that have not been looked at so far. As a result of concentrating on the local scene as the debate on colonization played itself out in the context of Calcutta, an alternative explanation is attempted of the different interests which, while upholding a basic faith in the desirability of British rule, were ranged in this period in the form of unstable alliances for and against Company monopoly and Company rule.
Rosinka Chaudhuri is Professor of Cultural Studies and Director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC). She earned a D.Phil at the University of Oxford and was the inaugural Mellon Professor of the Global South at Oxford, 2017-18. Prof. Chaudhuri’s publications include Gentlemen Poets in Colonial Bengal: Emergent Nationalism and the Orientalist Project (2002), Freedom and Beef-Steaks: Colonial Calcutta Culture (2012) and The Literary Thing: History, Poetry and the Making of a Modern Literary Culture (2013), and A History of Indian Poetry in English (2016). Her edited publications include: Derozio, Poet of India: A Definitive Edition (2008), and, with Elleke Boehmer, The Indian Postcolonial (2010), and An Acre of Green Grass: English Writings of Buddhadeva Bose (2008). She translated the complete text of the letters Rabindranath Tagore wrote his niece Indira Debi as a young man, entitled, Letters from a Young Poet (1887-94) (2014), which received an Honorable Mention in the category A.K. Ramanujan Prize for Translation at the Association for Asian Studies Book Prizes in 2016.