Tag Archives: Rudyard Kipling

The Concept of the “Other” in Kim

Kipling seems to fancy himself as the first Eric Schlosser. In his story Kim, the presence of the concept of the “other” is scarce, even nonexistent, to the point of a noticeable, glaring omission. British, Indian and Tibetan cultures have minor contradictions with each other, but none is presented as particularly “domineering” over one another even within the context of colonial relations. No one is demonized; no one is more advanced or nobler than the other. Whatever ideologies might justify it, there is no particularly sharp mention of the destruction of previous forms of social organization (symbolized by characters such as the Lama), which seem merely dizzied rather than lost. Without realizing it himself, since this is the nature of ideology to fill the gaps and to consist on what the text hides, Kipling has constructed here a highly differentiated examination of pre-globalization before such a term existed. One cannot separate the full explanation of imperialism from late nineteenth-century colonialism and the necessary spread of capitalist production that comes from those particular stages. Such a spread, such as that from Britain to India, is globalizing, and imperialism has the ability to hide cultural and ethnic conflicts as much as it has the power to aggravate them for monetary and political gain. This is what we see a slice of in Kim.