Book Review: Colonisation: A Comparative Study of India and Korea by Vyjayanti Raghavan & R. Mahalakshmi.

Author:Sarmah, Jayanta Krishna
Position:Book review

Raghavan, Vyjayanti, and R. Mahalakshmi, eds. Colonisation: A Comparative Study of India and Korea. New Delhi: Academic Foundation, 2015. 393 pages. Hardcover, $90.95.

Colonisation: A Comparative Study of India and Korea is an edited volume of comparative history, with twenty essays comparing colonial experiences in the two countries. Edited by Dr. Raghavan, a professor of Korean studies, and Dr. Mahalakshmi, who specializes in the history of India, the text presents the colonial processes and impacts of two completely different subject countries, India and Korea, colonised by two entirely different colonial powers, Britain and Japan, respectively.

The essays of the book are divided into three parts to describe the comparative colonisation of India and Korea. Part One focuses on the historiography in pre-colonial India and Korea, which is crucial to comprehending the nature of social formation before these regions were colonised. The discourses in the book scrutinize the nature of state formation from the early historical period to the late medieval period in India with a focus on diffusion, change, regionalisation, and continuation of the state across diverse regions. With respect to Korea, the discourses raise some pertinent questions about how the past is used to mediate and even justify the present. Japan's expansionist nationalism in the late nineteenth century is discussed along with its resemblance to imperialist and coercive powers in the west as well as the ideological instruments through which the state exerts its control.

Part Two describes the colonial process. In this section, the administrative, military, legal, educational, and religious characteristics of colonialism are dealt with along with the diverse aspects of science, communalism, and social change. The confidence of the colonial powers is demonstrated in its military power and use of force rather than on the consent of the native peoples. In India, the society is characterised by superstition, ignorance, abject poverty, growing communalism, and illiteracy/lack of education (especially of girls and women). Endorsing the cultural superiority of English culture and the Christian religion, the British colonial state effectively uses legislation and education to exercise control over Indian religious and social practices. Similarly, Japan plays an active role in the public education system of Korea, assimilating the Koreans into the Japanese culture. From the start of...

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