ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Five Hundred Years of Fear and Love

Partha Chatterjee Vasco da Gama's arrival in Calicut in 1498 and all those processes of great consequence in the subsequent centuries which this event is supposed to have inaugurated constitute a veritable ideological minefield. Of course, there are certain safe routes through the field that have, been charted and well traversed, at least since the era of decolonisation in the middle of the 20th century. Those who wish to play it safe speak of universal humanity and brotherhood, of the falsity of the distinctions between east and west, of history as indubitable progress from backwardness to modernity, of universal access to the benefits of modern science and technology and, in more recent years, of unfettered entry into the dreamland of universal consumption in the millennium of globalisation. Not wishing to tread this safe path, the author in this paper turns to some of the political and moral issues posed by the history of relations between Europe and south Asia in the last five hundred years.

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