A revealing look into the long afterlife of colonial conquest, Lying on the Postcolonial Couch offers an original, overarching concept that informs-and helps to explain-the workings of postcoloniality. This concept, "indifference," is a play on the key critical term "difference." Indifference is a cognitive stance invented during the colonial period for the purpose of organizing the complex domain of the Indian subcontinent, one that created its own brand of poetics. Considering postcoloniality as a symptomatic condition, this book proposes a cure involving a return to buried memories of colonial trauma before the phenomenon itself succumbs to the absolute indifference of the slowly gathering amnesia of the new millennium.
Rukmini Bhaya Nair traces a paper trail beginning in 1757 with the Battle of Plassey, winding through the contentious Mutiny of 1857, and ending with Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses predicament. Along this trail, she uncovers hidden residues of feeling, from guilt and mistrust to wonder and pleasure, and analyzes the linguistic pillars that hold up the institution of bureaucratic indifference that she exposes.
Rukmini Bhaya Nair is professor of English and linguistics in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.