A talk by Rosinka Chaudhuri, Author and Professor of Cultural Studies at the Center for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta.

This talk returns to the scene of excitement that comprised the topic labelled ‘On the Colonization of India’ in the newspapers and journals of 1829, focusing tightly on this issue of ‘colonization’ alone, exploring the arguments for and against free trade in the run-up to the renewal of the East India Company’s charter in 1833 as they unfolded in Calcutta. The objective is to gesture toward the complexity and referential instability of the archives as they are used in historical research, and more broadly, to read the moment as it took place in Calcutta in 1829 without large generalizations from the vantage point of historical narratives of empire, free trade, or the Indian ‘renaissance’, emphasizing instead local perspectives that have not been looked at so far.  As a result of concentrating on the local scene as the debate on colonization played itself out in the context of Calcutta, an alternative explanation is attempted of the different interests which, while upholding a basic faith in the desirability of British rule, were ranged in this period in the form of unstable alliances for and against Company monopoly and Company rule.