Chatterjee asks why nation states in the third world, which became independent with such high ideals, have been unable to realize their promises of emancipation and freedom to their citizens. Part of the problem, Chatterjee argues, is that while we see the nationalism as being the complete opposite of colonialism, it in fact absorbs much of the value system of colonialism, and acts to benefit a middle class elite. The title of Chatterjee's first major study, Nationalist Thought in the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse? summarizes his concerns. Nationalism promises freedom from colonialism, but what if nationalism allows many of the thought patterns of colonialism to continue, unrecognized, in nations which have freed themselves from colonialism?
Chatterjee's research has been almost entirely on India, and more specifically on Bengal. He has claimed, however, that his research has a much larger applicability.
Last Modified: 19 April, 2002