The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power

By Partha Chatterjee | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
The Pedagogy of Violence

LORD DALHOUSIE, governor-general of India, stood in front of the northern windows of the council chamber on the upper floor of Government House. The outer walls around the great mansion had still not been lined with the tall, thickly leaved trees that now provide it with an air of seclusion, even though it is situated in the middle of the city's busiest office district. Looking north across Tank Square, Dalhousie could see the bamboo scaffolding put up by masons working on the new facade and extension of Writers’ Buildings. Beyond the offices of the Bengal government was the squalor and bustle of Black Town, and further past that, as he may have envisioned, lay stretched out the fertile plains of Upper India, soaked in the monsoon rains. Those territories were very much on his mind that August morning of 1855, because the day's agenda for discussion in the governor-general's council included the contentious topic of Awadh. The demand was being made from liberal and Evangelical quarters for the East India Company to annex the kingdom. Dalhousie was not inclined to concede.

It was not that he lacked sympathy for the liberal or Evangelical causes. Echoing the best liberal sentiments of the day, he once wrote in his diary:

We govern India now with a limited despotism, because India is wholly incapable of
governing itself, and we are wise in so doing. But we cannot, and we ought not, to
anticipate that the condition of India and its population shall for ever stand still, and
that it shall be in all time coming as wholly incapable of being admitted to a share of
the government of itself, in union with its British conquerors, as it avowedly is at the
present time!1

That happy eventuality still lay in some obscurely perceptible future. Dalhousie's problem was immediate. It was one of correctly applying the right legal and moral norms to a policy.


THE LAW OF NATIONS IN THE EAST

We have seen in the previous chapter how the emergence in the early nineteenth century of a normative framework of comparative government created

-185-

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The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter One - Outrage in Calcutta 1
  • Chapter Two - A Secret Veil 33
  • Chapter Three - Tipu's Tiger 67
  • Chapter Four - Liberty of the Subject 104
  • Chapter Five - Equality of Subjects 134
  • Chapter Six - For the Happiness of Mankind 159
  • Chapter Seven - The Pedagogy of Violence 185
  • Chapter Eight - The Pedagogy of Culture 222
  • Chapter Nine - Bombs, Sovereignty, and Football 264
  • Chapter Ten - The Death and Everlasting Life of Empire 311
  • Notes 347
  • References 387
  • Index 409
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