8

LEAVEN AND LEVERS

“We had become strangers in our own country.” Word for word this expression has been repeated several times in the course of history. It was first uttered by Gandhi, later by Pham Quynh, one of Bao Dai's advisers, in 1945, when the Japanese proclaimed that they had themselves replaced the French administration. In 1952 the Arabs of Algiers too used the expression. Like the Vietnamese they were denied their fundamental rights. The words found an echo among the Mexican-Americans of New Mexico and of Arizona, when they were treated like immigrant foreigners by Washington, despite the fact that they were at home on either side of the frontier fixed in 1848 when the Yankees annexed the three former Mexican provinces. The expression is heard today in Central America.

One of the more typical situations was actually that of the people of India, who were gradually dissociated from their mode of organization by the British administration.

Within the caste system where, involved in a network of relationships of variable reach, the status of individuals matters more than their functions within a defined field, the part played by kings and state hierarchies was different from that of their own counterparts in the West. There was no functional relationship between the political and the social. Consequently small territorial entities could be confined within the caste system which included the monarch as well as the village community. Jacques Pouchepadass has correctly shown how the practice of conferring on rulers the title of zamindars, responsible for the levying of income part of which was paid back to the colonial government, transformed them into owners in the western sense of the expression. This practice transplanted the rules of Western private law onto the customs of the Indians. Nonetheless the zamindars continued to levy customary dues and accordingly perpetuated the relationship of authority which existed before the arrival of the British. Nevertheless some traditional social practices did become “illegal”, following the enactment of the Criminal Castes and Tribes Act, which dispossessed the individuals of their true social identity.

-239-

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Colonization: A Global History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - Colonization or Imperialism 1
  • 2 - The Initiatives 24
  • 3 - Conflicts for an Empire 52
  • 4 - A New Race of Societies 104
  • 5 - Rose-Coloured Legend and Pitch-Black Legend 163
  • 6 - The Vision of the Vanquished 186
  • 7 - The Movements for Colonist-Independence 211
  • 8 - Leaven and Levers 239
  • 9 - Independence or Revolution 262
  • 10 - Liberation or Decolonization 305
  • 11 - Decolonization Halted 344
  • Chronology 361
  • Filmographic Selection 370
  • Bibliography 376
  • Index 390
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