Monday, June 2, 2008
Thoughts on Ashis Nandy's book, The Intimate Enemy
This is an intriguing and challenging work of postcolonial criticism, although Nandy doesn’t really invoke the term “postcolonial” (see below) and, indeed, has some scathing things to say about postcolonial criticism in the West (criticism he sees as elitist, critics who are in his view “ornamental dissenters” [p. 10] though he doesn’t name names). His focus on the psychology of colonialism is what sets this book apart and what I found most engaging about it. I think it begs the question of what relation there is, however, between the psychology and the politics of colonialism. It seems to me they’re intimately linked and the book could have stressed this more, i.e. the politics of colonialism produces a range of psychologies that feed back into political behavior, so the relation between the two is a little more symmetrical than he suggests. But all of this is implied and the value of the book is how it gets you to think about the relationship between the two.