An old Asian saying, tongsang imong—bedfellows sleep in the same bed but
have different dreams—provides a trope for this book’s exploration of the
ways in which colonialism and nationalism inhabit the same space yet en-
visage two different dream worlds. Postcolonial critics depict colonialism
and nationalism as bedfellows, not enemies, with colonized elites embrac-
ing the Western modular form of the nation as the template for their own.
The derivative idea of nation is seen to perpetuate the colonial condition in
terms of their identities and cultures even after liberation from colonial rule.
For postcolonial critics, the bed is the foundation of the modern nation, and
the dreams of the bedfellows differ only to the extent that copies differ from
the original.
In my study, the relationship between colonialism and nationalism in-
volves more than their military and political opposition or the homology of
original and copies. The shared bed has a temporal materiality that enables
the bedfellows to sleep together but taints their dreams with the curse of
making them unattainable. Capitalism is the bed. It draws togethercolonial-
ists and their nationalist counterparts to work for a common goal—capital-
ist development of a given territory—but for different reasons. While colo-
nialists desire a form of capitalist development that can benefit the entire
empire, nationalists aspire to develop a national economy of their own. But
people whose surplus values are appropriated by those who represent them
but also for the dreamers themselves. These bedfellows can neither control
the speed of capitalist expansion nor fully resolve the social crises spawned
by it. The trope of two dreams in one bed suggests that an analysis of colo-
nial and national politics warrants the incorporation of global capitalism if
we are to adequately account for their dyadic relationship.
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