Challenging the grammar of difference: Benoy Kumar Sarkar, global mobility and anti-imperialism around the First World War

Six, C., 2018, In : European Review of History - Revue européenne d'Histoire. 25, 3-4, p. 431-449 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

The new imperial history has advanced our understanding of empires in many ways: it enhanced a networked interpretation of empires, brought space back into the discussion, and suggested a fresh reading of imperial careers to comprehend early forms of global inter- dependencies. This article discusses selected aspects of the life and work of Benoy Kumar Sarkar (1887–1949), a Bengali social scientist and political activist, to illustrate that anti-imperial biographies were simultaneously rooted in local as well as transnational spaces. They thus connected national struggles with globe-spanning processes. Biographies like this are underacknowledged in their meaning for how empires functioned and failed, and in their potential for understanding transnational actors. Sarkar’s e orts to challenge the legitimacy of the British Empire were the result of his life in a transnational social eld, which was equally shaped by his extensive experience abroad and his continuous rootedness in local Bengali a airs. Sarkar’s anti- imperialism was enhanced by the mobility structures of the British Empire and resulted in new constellations of imperial, cosmopolitan, local and regional orientations and attachments. In this view, anti- imperialism was less the result of local struggles but of life practices reaching beyond the borders of the empire and a high awareness of acting in a global context that located its protagonists in numerous social and spatial contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-449
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Review of History - Revue européenne d'Histoire
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2018



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