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Power and TimeTemporalities in Conflict and the Making of History$
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Dan Edelstein, Stefanos Geroulanos, and Natasha Wheatley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226481623

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.001.0001

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History and Temporal Sovereignty in the Thought of Jawaharlal Nehru

History and Temporal Sovereignty in the Thought of Jawaharlal Nehru

(p.335) 13 History and Temporal Sovereignty in the Thought of Jawaharlal Nehru
Power and Time

Sunil Purushotham

University of Chicago Press

Jawaharlal Nehru, a major figure in India’s anti-colonial nationalist movement and the first Prime Minister of independent India from 1947 until his death in 1964, was both an historian and a self-conscious agent of historical change. Bringing together these two perspectives—that of the historian and of the historical actor—this chapter examines how Nehru conceived of the relationship between power and time and, in particular, the ways in which he sought to mediate between the past, present, and future. The chapter argues for a perspective on his transition from anti-colonial dissident to prime minister amidst the world historical conjunctures of the mid-twentieth century and on his vision of the Indian nation-state that emphasizes the centrality of temporality and historicism to Nehru’s political thought. The idea of temporal sovereignty is used to describe the ways in which Nehru sought to command, direct, and navigate time as a fundamental problematic of political power.

Keywords:   temporality, historicism, sovereignty, Jawaharlal Nehru, India

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