We usually associate colonialism with political domination and economic exploitation. Colonialism, however, has involved representation, study, classification, and ordering of the colonized through “intellectual” works encompassing translations, commentaries, travelogues, surveys, etc. which were disseminated through the establishment of academic institutions. This intervention systematically destroyed the native worldview of the native ways of positioning and locating themselves in the world.
In short, colonialism has involved the conquest of culture through what is now being recognized in academia as “epistemic violence.” India, Hindus, and Hinduism were the victims of the epistemic violence, where reams were written to disconnect them from their epistemological and cosmological underpinnings. The effects have been twofold: 1) In current mainstream academia, the same distorted and demonized discourse continues in politically correct ways. 2) Postcolonial India has not systematically analyzed the sinister and distorted discourse, which was unleashed on its culture and traditions in general, and Hinduism in particular. The Certificate programs in “Postcolonial Hindu Studies” will systematically explore colonialism as a discourse, i.e. the literary, representational, and ideological component of its political and material dominance. It will carefully examine how Hindus reading colonial texts assimilated and internalized westerns theories and hypotheses about themselves and took on western ways of looking at themselves as the “truth” about their own culture and civilization. It will seek to penetrate the mystical amnesia of colonial aftermath and understand the ways in which the living Hindu culture and civilization have been denounced and marginalized as a consequence of colonial rule in contemporary discourse. It will explore ways of decolonization, i.e. the process of calling into question European categories and epistemologies and seeking freedom from colonial forms of knowledge and thinking. Finally, it will examine and facilitate modes of retrieval, recovery, and rejuvenation of the precolonial Hindu culture and knowledge.
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