Cornell University

SAP Seminar Series: "Insurgent Comparisons: Early Communism in Late Colonial India" by Manu Goswami

Monday, March 20, 2017 at 12:15pm to 1:15pm

Uris Hall, G08 109 Tower Road, Ithaca, NY 14850

Manu Goswami’s talk will address the unexpected resonance of communism in late colonial India. It will do so through a close reading of the neglected archive of the individual depositions that populated the Meerut Conspiracy Trial (1929-1933), the longest and most expensive trial in colonial India. For legal historians the Meerut trial exemplifies the overt abrogation of formal procedures and the contested usage of the laws of sedition. Historians of communism have regarded it as the heroic origin of a 'proper' communist party in colonial India. Both approaches ignore the wider and longer-run significance of a trial as the first sustained confrontation by British imperial authorities with communism as a distinctive political horizon that brought together Muslim, Hindu, Dalit and British subjects as trade-unionists, peasant-activists, and industrial workers in an unprecedented, if also transient, coalition. 

Manu Goswami’s research and teaching center on nationalism and internationalism, political economy and the history of economic thought, social theory and historical methods. Her book, Producing India: From Colonial Economy to National Space was published in 2004 by the University of Chicago. It was the inaugural volume of an interdisciplinary book series, Chicago Studies in the Practices of Meaning. It explored the emergence and trajectory of concepts of India as a spatially bounded national economy and a national space. Adopting an explicitly global framework, it sought to underline the limits of methodological nationalism in histories of colonial state formation, imperial capitalism, and nationalist discourse. She is currently working on an intellectual and political history of colonial internationalisms during the interwar decades. Her longer-run research interests include the place and status of empire in the work of major classical and neo-classical economists during the nineteenth and twentieth century. She has worked with graduate students in modern European history, Chinese history, Atlantic World, African history, and the joint MEIS program as well as in American Studies, comparative literature, and sociology. She was a fellow in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in 2010-2011. She serves on the editorial board of Public Culture.

Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program, History




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Contact Name

Daniel Bass

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Manu Goswami

Speaker Affiliation

New York University (History)

Disability Access Information

Wheelchair accessible, assisted listening device available

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