How 'dynasty' became a modern global concept: intellectual histories of sovereignty and property

Milinda Banerjee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


The modern concept of ‘dynasty’ is a politically-motivated modern intellectual invention. For many advocates of a strong sovereign nation-state across the nineteenth and early twentieth century, in France, Germany, and Japan, the concept helped in visualizing the nation-state as a primordial entity sealed by the continuity of birth and blood, indeed by the perpetuity of sovereignty. Hegel’s references to ‘dynasty’, read with Marx’s critique, further show how ‘dynasty’ encoded the intersection of sovereignty and big property, indeed the coming into self-consciousness of their mutual identification-in-difference in the age of capitalism. Imaginaries about ‘dynasty’ also connected national sovereignty with patriarchal authority. European colonialism helped globalize the concept in the non-European world; British India offers an exemplar of ensuing debates. The globalization of the abstraction of ‘dynasty’ was ultimately bound to the globalization of capitalist-colonial infrastructures of production, circulation, violence, and exploitation. Simultaneously, colonized actors, like Indian peasant/‘tribal’ populations, brought to play alternate precolonial Indian-origin concepts of collective regality, expressed through terms like ‘rajavamshi’ and ‘Kshatriya’. These concepts nourished new forms of democracy in modern India. Global intellectual histories can thus expand political thought today by provincializing and deconstructing Eurocentric political vocabularies and by recuperating subaltern models of collective and polyarchic power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-452
Number of pages32
JournalGlobal Intellectual History
Issue number3
Early online date27 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Global intellectual history
  • Dynasty
  • Monarchy
  • British colonialism
  • Germany
  • India


Dive into the research topics of 'How 'dynasty' became a modern global concept: intellectual histories of sovereignty and property'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this