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Panopticon in Poona: An Essay on Foucault and Colonialism

Essay Excerpt

When British rule began in western India in 1818, administrator Mountstuart Elphinstone used questionnaires to inquire into local "custom" and decided to build a panopticon prison in Poona. In light of Foucault's concept of panopti- cism, we can see Elphinstone's inquiry as a subtle exercise in knowledge and power. Yet more can be said of this colonial project if we turn from Foucault's analysis of European states to take colonies seriously as a historically specific polity form that specifies difference-here inferiorizing temporal difference- to govern. Thinking about Elphinstone, and Foucault, what might we learn about narratives of difference and historical trajectory? (85)

Kaplan, Martha. "Panopticon in Poona: An Essay on Foucault and Colonialism." Cultural Anthropology 10.1(1995): 85–98.

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