This project aims to look at the history of decolonization not just as an institutional process of ‘transfer of power', but as a history of the mind of the newly liberated people. It seeks to look at what ‘freedom' meant to different groups of people when it arrived after two hundred years of subjecthood. Such an analysis alone can explain why democratic institutions function ‘differently' in some post-colonial societies. To develop this alternative reading of decolonization and post-colonial history of political modernity, the project will initially focus on the newly constituted province of West Bengal in India, looking at mass politics and popular cultural representations of the concepts of freedom during the five years from independence (15 August 1947) to first election in January 1952.