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New Left Review 72, November-December 2011


Alexander Beecroft

THE SANSKRIT ECUMENE

The world of South and Southeast Asia has always featured prominently in theoretical discussions seeking to open European ideas up to the world, from the importance of India for postcolonial theory to the seminal work of Clifford Geertz and Benedict Anderson—partly derived in both cases from Indonesian fieldwork. [1] Sheldon Pollock, The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India, University of California Press: Berkeley 2009, $39.95, paperback 684 pp, 978 0 520 26003 0 This should not surprise us, given that the area collectively harbours nearly a third of the global population, that South Asia in particular possesses one of the world’s longest and richest literary traditions, and that both regions featured prominently in the European colonial adventure. Most discussions, however, have focused on the sustained and complex engagement between these regions and European colonialism. Scholarship on pre-modern South and Southeast Asia which takes up larger theoretical questions remains less common.

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