U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Quote for Tuesday

“To ‘provincialize’ Europe was precisely to find out how and in what sense European ideas that were universal were also, at one and the same time, drawn from very particular intellectual and historical traditions that could not claim any universal validity. It was to ask a question about how thought was related to place. Can thought transcend places of their origin? Or do places leave their imprint on thought in such a way as to call into question the idea of purely abstract categories?”

Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (2007 edition; xiii)

2 Thoughts on this Post

  1. Word. As someone with an interest and a toe in South Asian history/studies, I’ve often felt that Provincializing Europe should be read among Americanists and Europeanists but had no idea if it is, in fact. How did you come across it, and is it the kind of thing you might assign in a graduate course (on something like theory or historiography)?

  2. Zack: I assigned Chakrabarty in my graduate seminar on the philosophy of history, as part of a section on postcolonial theory. I really enjoyed it–it challenged me–even if I’m not sure I agree with it all.

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