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Tanya Agathocleous, Disaffected: Emotion, Sedition, and Colonial Law in the Anglosphere


Emotion, Sedition, and Colonial Law in the Anglosphere

Tanya Agathocleous

Disaffected examines the effects of antisedition law on the overlapping public spheres of India and Britain under empire. After 1857, the British government began censoring the press in India, culminating in 1870 with the passage of Section 124a, a law that used the term "disaffection" to target the emotional tenor of writing deemed threatening to imperial rule. As a result, Tanya Agathocleous shows, Indian journalists adopted modes of writing that appeared to mimic properly British styles of prose even as they wrote against empire.

Agathocleous argues that Section 124a, which is still used to quell political dissent in present-day India, both irrevocably shaped conversations and critiques in the colonial public sphere and continues to influence anticolonialism and postcolonial relationships between the state and the public. Disaffected draws out the coercive and emotional subtexts of law, literature, and cultural relationships, demonstrating how the criminalization of political alienation and dissent has shaped literary form and the political imagination.

"Tanya Agathocleous's Disaffected is a splendid and important study of the promulgation and longstanding consequences of Section 124 A, the colonial-era law against disaffection in India. This timely, incisive book is a must-read!"

- Sukanya Banerjee, University of California, Berkeley, author of Becoming Imperial Citizens

"Disaffected is a brilliant, bold, and field-changing book. Agathocleous shows that the phantasmatic legal injunction for Indians to show affection for their British masters incited them to deploy a stunning array of sly literary forms and generic innovations to evade and critique the logics of a racialized "Anglosphere." By putting British and South Asian literary cultures and histories within a single, albeit complexly heterogeneous, conceptual frame, Agathocleous allows us to see each in exciting new ways."

- Seth Koven, author of The Match Girl and The Heiress

Tanya Agathocleous is Associate Professor of English at Hunter College. She is author of Urban Realism and the Cosmopolitan Imagination.

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