Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The Chicago School goes east: Edward Shils and the dilemma of the Indian intellectuals, c.1956-67

Sharma, Shalini



The sociologist Edward Shils (1910-95) is a neglected commentator on modern India. Best known in a South Asian context for his involvement in the Congress for Cultural Freedom, Shils also produced an influential study of Indian intellectuals, published in 1961. Shils was one of the few non-Marxists to write about the role of intellectuals during the era of decolonisation in Asia and Africa. His book appeared in the same year as Frantz Fanon’s Les Damnés de la Terre (1961), a year before C. L. R. James’ Marxism and the Intellectuals (1962), and just as Pan-Africanism was finding its ideological voice. This article recovers Shils’ work on the Indian intellectual. It describes his Indian interlocutors, his methodology, and his claims about the isolated and ineffectual character of the Indian academic elite. The article concludes with the longer-term influence and validity of Shils’ critique of the Indian intelligentsia.

Acceptance Date Oct 28, 2019
Publication Date Feb 17, 2020
Journal Modern Asian Studies
Print ISSN 0026-749X
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Pages 2087-2111
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations