Introduction: The Returns of the Mughal

  • Alex Padamsee


This introduction revisits the European deployment of the concept of Oriental Despotism in India and its colonial imbrication with Mughal history. Padamsee locates the founding appeal of the Mughal past in early and deeply conflicted British attempts to legitimate a despotic claim to territoriality that could not otherwise be accommodated by English legal and constitutional norms. While colonising the Mughal past became instrumental to colonial self-empowerment, the political-theological contradictions it entailed resurfaced in the embattled late colonial state and substantially shaped British and Indian historical fiction, continuing to fuel the contentious figure of the Mughal in Hindu Nationalist politics today.


Colonialism India Oriental Despotism Mughal Sovereignty Political theology Hastings Hindu nationalism 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex Padamsee
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EnglishUniversity of KentCanterburyUK

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