The History of Political ideas
This focus group has already held four workshops from 2007 to 2011. A collaborative volume is now being prepared. Thematically, the volume will centre on the tension between action and political thought as refracted in ideas/conceptions of power, as they arose in the Indian and European context.
While this is a relatively developed and sophisticated field of research in Europe (with the focus usually directed at European traditions), there has been little sustained work of this kind in the Indian context, and on the interactions between European and Indian intellectual traditions. There are two initial and obvious reasons for such work: first, it is increasingly apparent that Europe’s own intellectual history cannot be told in isolation from its encounters with other parts of the world. Second, Europeans will urgently need to understand the forms of self-knowledge developed across time by other societies: in order for Europeans to better manage their own position in a rapidly changing global order, they will require a more firmly grounded sense of how some of the major non-European members of the world order have come to see themselves and the world in which they seek to achieve their aspirations. The study of the intellectual history of political ideas, of civilizational beliefs about politics and political possibility, is thus hardly an academic luxury: in fact, it has a direct relevance for current politics and policy.