Vikram Visana

Oct 18, 2023

Uncivil Liberalism

Labour, Capital and Commercial Society in Dadabhai Naoroji’s Political Thought

Cambridge University Press 2022

Uncivil liberalism: Labour, Capital and Commercial Society in Dadabhai Naoroji's Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2023) by Dr. Vikram Visana studies how ideas of liberty from the colonised South claimed universality in the North. Recovering the political theory of Dadabhai Naoroji, India's pre-eminent liberal, this book offers an original global history of this process by focussing on Naoroji's preoccupation with social interdependence and civil peace in an age of growing cultural diversity and economic inequality.

Dr. Visana shows how Naoroji used political economy to critique British liberalism's incapacity for civil peace by linking periods of communal rioting in colonial Bombay with the Parsi minority's economic decline. He responded by innovating his own liberalism, characterised by labour rights, economic republicanism and social interdependence maintained by freely contracting workers. Significantly, the author draws attention to how Naoroji seeded 'Western' thinkers with his ideas as well as influencing numerous ideologies in colonial and post-colonial India. In doing so, the book offers a compelling argument which reframes Indian 'nationalists' as global thinkers.

This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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Miranda Melcher

Miranda Melcher (Ph.D., Defense Studies, Kings College, London) studies post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with deep analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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