PATEL, Sujata

150644_sujata_web_455Sujata Patel argues for the necessity of the global North to provincialise its knowledge and, at the same time, for the global South to build its own networks of endogenous knowledges. She suggests that while the knowledge of the global South is already provincialised within nationalist frames, these nationalist frames must nonetheless be further decolonised. This would involve engaging seriously with social movements and acknowledging the many other sites for knowledge production that exist outside of the institutional hierarchies of the university. Patel acknowledges that her approach is methodologically nationalist, but argues that methodological nationalism has different implications depending on its location. In formerly colonised countries, developing a specifically nationalist social science was part of the broader project to rebuild indigenous knowledges and traditions after the devastating effects of colonisation, both politically and epistemologically. As such, according to Patel, while methodological nationalism in the global North can be seen to be embedded in a theory of colonial modernity; in the global South it was located in a contestation of colonial modernity and a desire to establish understandings of its own histories of modernity.


Essential Reading:

Patel, Sujata 2014. ‘Gazing Backwards and Looking Forwards: Colonial Modernity and the Making of a Sociology of Modern India’ in Said Arjomand (ed.) Social Theory and Regional Studies. New York: SUNY Press.


Further Readings:

Falola, Toyin 2005. ‘Writing and Teaching National History in Africa in an Era of Global History,’ Africa Spectrum 40: 499-519.

Patel, Sujata 2010. ‘Sociology’s ‘Other’: The Debates on European Universals’ in The Encyclopaedia of Life Support Systems (Social Sciences and Humanities), UNESCO,

Patel, Sujata 2014. ‘Is There a South Perspective to Urban Studies?’ in Susan Parnell and Sophie Oldfield (eds) Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South. London: Routledge.



Evaluate Patel’s arguments about the different consequences of methodological nationalism in the ‘centre’ and the ‘periphery’.

How does Patel’s call for an endogenous social science differ from that of Akiwowo’s call for indigenous social science?

What is the place of social movements within Patel’s understanding of global sociology?

Discuss the place of colonialism within Patel’s global social theory.


Submitted by Gurminder K Bhambra

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