Early-Modem South Asia and Europe

Prasannan Parthasarathi

Department of History (Boston College)

A growing body of scholarship on early-modern South Asia is forcing a fundamental re-examination of European history. This scholarship has rejected older conceptualizations--Oriental despotism, Asian stasis, etc.—and identified important parallels between South Asia and Europe in the early-modem period. It this questions notions of European uniqueness, which have been the basis for the writing of much early-modern European history. How then to deal with the problem that by 1800, Europe had diverged from South Asia, most notably with the British industrial revolution? This paper argues for a new global and comparative framework which sees European industrialization, and modernity more generally, not as a product of European exceptionalism, but of a historical conjuncture.