The Imperialism of Categories

The Rudlophs recalled themselves as being part of a wave of comparativist political scientists who had been energized in the 1950s and 1960s by decolonization and the proliferation of new nations that followed. As they share, “We imagined we were plumbing the true underpinnings of the recently launched Indian experiment in democracy. What we hadn’t counted on and what we gradually came to realize was that American ideology, particularly the universalism and individualism of America’s hegemonic Lockian liberalism, had shaped the concepts and methods not only of survey research but also of the then prevailing Parsonian structural-functionalism of modernization theory.” Their lecture explores how western, particularly American, ideology contributed to an imperialism of categories in western social science research about India.

Susanne Hoeber Rudolph is Professor Emerita of Political Science, University of Chicago, and past President of American Political Science Association and of the Association of Asian Studies. A recent publication is the co-authored three volumes Explaining Indian Democracy: A Fifty Year Perspective.

Lloyd I. Rudolph is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Chicago. A recent publication is the co-authored Postmodern Gandhi and Other Essays: Gandhi in the World and at Home.

Date: 11 February 2013, 6 pm
Venue: CSDS Seminar Hall, Delhi