The on-going calls for ‘radical economic transformation’ as well as arguments about how the lack of ‘economic freedom’ undermines political independence, sharply raise questions about the nature of the ideology that drove the liberation struggle – African nationalism. As we examine African nationalism, it is vital to reflect on nationalism that developed in other parts of the global South. India is a good case study to consider. Emerging in the 1880s, Indian nationalism drove the struggle against British colonial rule and anchored the mass movement that won political independence in 1947.

Vivek Chibber is Professor of Sociology at New York University.  He is author of Locked in Place: State-Building and Late Industrialization in India (Princeton University Press, 2003), which won several awards including the Barrington Moore, Jr. Prize from the American Sociological Association, and Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital (Verso, 2013).  The debate that this book touched off is collected in The Debate on Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital (Verso, 2017).

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Vivek Chibber recounts the history of nationalism in India and compares the development of nationalist politics in India to South Africa. From this, he outlines lessons that can be derived from the failures of a socialist democratic agenda in India.