International Journal of South Asian Studies

Mark Wilks, like any contemporary of the Enlightenment was attracted to the characteristic differences in the forms of civil society and royal power in India and Europe. Caste and Despotism were invoked as literary tropes to explain and rationalize the apparent unchanging nature of the Indian society—vegetating in the teeth of time—in the purple prose of Karl Marx. Rejecting the then widely accepted theory of environmental determinism, Wilks argued that despotism, by which he meant absence of “civil liberty” was the result of the absence of written law and the infusion of religion in purely secular matters of civil society and its functioning.

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Issue Period: 
January- June 2009