Prof. Prathama Banerjee

Prathama Banerjee is a historian and a political theorist.  Her latest book is Elementary Aspects of the Political: histories from the global south (Duke University Press, 2020) in which she discusses how modern conceptions of political subjectivity, political action, political ideology and political community come to be fashioned in India between late 19th and mid-20th centuries.  She challenges modern assumptions about the universality, primacy, and self-evidence of the political and gestures toward a globally salient political philosophy that displaces prevailing Western notions of the political masquerading as universal. Her earlier work was on the Politics of Time, in which she looked at the emergence of the modern discipline of history in colonial Bengal from an encounter with ‘peoples without history’ – tribes, aborigines, primitives – as they were variously called. She mapped this encounter in different discursive and material sites such as that of calendrical reforms, history and geography texts, anthropology, poetry, indentured labour markets, agrarian credit markets, and so on.

Currently she is engaged in a study of the career of political ideas in India – as they emerge in the cusp of philosophy, religion, history and literature and across modern and non-modern times.  She asks if it is possible to think across time from within the discipline of history. Banerjee is also interested in the emergent futures of democracy in the digital cum viral age and focuses on the changing role of economics in contemporary political imaginaries.

Currently a member of the Board of the Consortium of Humanities Centres and Institutions, she is associated in an editorial capacity with the journals Political Theology, Modern Intellectual Thought and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (CSSAAME).

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