Redefining universal development from and at the margins
: Indian Economics’ contribution to development discourse, 1870-1905

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Late 19th century Indian Economics redefined development. This thesis examines what shaped the idea of development in Indian Economics from 1870 to 1905, using discourse analysis to explore the interaction between and effect of the multidiscursive and multispatial contexts. Although recent International Political Economy scholarship has started to encourage a global perspective, historical research in the field is still centred on European and American contributions. The research aims to fill that gap by analysing Indian Economics development discourse that emerged in a period of political conflict and poor socio-economic conditions which brought into question the legitimacy of British imperial rule. Indian Economics subsequently attempted to prove India’s ability to progress and conceptualise an appropriate and effective development plan. Additionally, the research complements recent research in social history and history of political and economic thought that attempts to contextualise Indian intellectuals’ conceptualisation of nationalism at the turn of the 19th century. I show how the position of Indian Economics at the margins of discursive space offered a unique perspective that enabled Indian Economics to discursively innovate at the margins of development discourse. The analysis concludes that Indian Economics redefined the concept of universality in the existing idea of development in the 19th century by rejecting the widely accepted international division of labour and the dominant assertion that progress originated in Europe. India, according to Indian Economics, could and should industrialise like all other nations, because the idea of universal development in Indian Economics adopted a world view that saw universal progress or positive societal change as beneficial to all, rather than a zero-sum game involving necessary winners and losers.
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorValbona Muzaka (Supervisor), Jon Wilson (Supervisor) & Alex Callinicos (Supervisor)

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