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Anticolonial movements of the twentieth century generated audacious ideas of freedom. Following decolonization, the challenge was to give institutional form to those ideas. Through an original and comprehensive account of India’s anticolonial movement and constitution making, Legalizing the Revolution explores the unique promises, challenges, and contradictions of that task.


In contrast to the familiar liberal constitutional templates derived from the metropole, the book theorizes the distinctively postcolonial constitution through an innovative synthesis of the history of decolonization and constitutional theory.

A major contribution to postcolonial political theory, the book excavates the unrealized futures imagined during decolonization. At the same time, through a critical account of the making of the postcolonial constitutional order, it offers keys to understanding the present crisis of that order, including and especially in India.

The book is available from the Cambridge University Press website here.  
The online version of the book is available here. 
View the table of contents here
An excerpt from the introduction can be read here
Reviews and Endorsements

This  account of the origins of the Indian constitution is nothing short of heroic, and its relevance to our global present is plain. Arrestingly, Sandipto Dasgupta lifts promotional and romanticizing frames — however appealing in the face of far-right politics today — in order to recapture the promise of postcolonial democracy without ignoring imperial legacies of constitutionalism itself and material realities that elite legalism confirmed as much as challenged. Lurking beneath contemporary appropriations that excessively center rights and judges rather than class and parliamentarism, Dasgupta provides authentic access to the stakes of the moment — and our own.

Samuel Moyn, Yale University

In this important contribution to political and constitutional theory, Sandipto Dasgupta tracks the distinctive character and logic of the postcolonial constitution. Rather than closing a revolution, constitutions in the decolonizing worldwere designed to facilitate the revolution to come. Examining the antinomies of this “transformational constitutionalism” to prompt a wider reconsideration of the ends of constitutionalism, Legalizing the Revolution models postcolonial political theory at its best.

Adom Getachew, University of Chicago

In this remarkable new study Sandipto Dasgupta offers a fascinating examination of a great paradox of modern history – how in the process of decolonization, a revolution – the activity maximally opposed to legal order – seeks to produce, out of itself, a constitution, the primary device for the creation of an expansive, stable legal system. The argument of the book joins together two strands of analysis rarely brought together – the tumultuous history of the events of decolonization and the tranquil discussion of provisions of effective legality. It follows the acts of the double authors of the constitutional document – the people in whose name it is written, and the actual writers who shape its detailed provisions. This is an intelligent and insightful exploration of the founding moment of the world’s largest democracy – an important contribution to the political theory of decolonization. 

Sudipta Kaviraj, Columbia University

Chittaprosad Bhattacharya, Untitled

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