The culture of the modern world is, in many ways, constituted by interwoven strands of empire and resistance. The essays in this volume examine some of those strands, primarily in the contexts of India and the United States, but also in other parts of the world, such as Germany and Israel-Palestine. They highlight not only the particular histories of cultures of power and desire, but also the convergences of forms of power and desire originating in different historical settings. What, for instance, links the culture of schoolchildren in the Indian hinterland with the isolation of small-town America? What does the fact that Indian crowds stare openly at strangers have to do with police violence and race relations on the other side of the world? What might happen if Günter Grass and Rabindranath Tagore encountered Nirad Chaudhuri and Gandhi in the ‘global’ space of an airport transit lounge? Can the ‘PJ’ — the Indian concept of the ‘poor joke’ — be considered a response to the decidedly unfunny violence of empire? These questions have no easy answers, but the complexities and contradictions of the answers are what make the problems worth exploring, shedding light on the novelty as well as the familiarity of the post- September-Eleven world.