Document Type



This is a review essay based on Uday Singh Mehta, Liberalism and Empire: A study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press 1999). It evaluates the entanglement of liberalism with colonialism to highlight many fundamental contradictions inherent in projects of modernity and the way universal claims are often bound by particularistic imperatives. Liberalism could reconcile its agenda of liberty and representation with colonial subjugation only by positing race as the grounds for eligibility to rights. With the project of neo-liberal restructuring of the world underway, it is useful to recall the disjunction between the theory and historical practice of liberalism.