Decolonizing Democracy

Transforming the Social Contract in India

By (author) Christine Keating

Hardback - £49.95

Publication date:

28 July 2011

Length of book:

168 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271048635

Most democratic theorists have taken Western political traditions as their primary point of reference, although the growing field of comparative political theory has shifted this focus. In Decolonizing Democracy, comparative theorist Christine Keating interprets the formation of Indian democracy as a progressive example of a “postcolonial social contract.” In doing so, she highlights the significance of reconfigurations of democracy in postcolonial polities like India and sheds new light on the social contract, a central concept within democratic theory from Locke to Rawls and beyond. Keating’s analysis builds on the literature developed by feminists like Carole Pateman and critical race theorists like Charles Mills that examines the social contract’s egalitarian potential. By analyzing the ways in which the framers of the Indian constitution sought to address injustices of gender, race, religion, and caste, as well as present-day struggles over women’s legal and political status, Keating demonstrates that democracy’s social contract continues to be challenged and reworked in innovative and potentially more just ways.

“Christine Keating has made me think afresh about not only Locke and Hobbes but even Pateman. This rich exploration of the deals made and resisted as British colonial elites and Indian nationalists and feminists crafted the new Indian state will be valuable for anyone interested in democracy, postcolonial politics, and the gendering of both.”

—Cynthia Enloe, author of Nimo's War, Emma’s War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War