25 November, 2012

The Forging of Nationhood

The Forging of Nationhood

By- Gyanendra Pandey and Peter Geschiere (eds.)

Unlike most writings on nationalism, and the related concepts of development and modernity, this book is the product of a conversation begun among historians of the South—or what used to be known as the ‘Third World’. It shows how much there is to learn about these facets of the modern world from closer attention to the experience of the directly or indirectly colonized parts of Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and, no less importantly, from direct interaction between scholars from these regions.

The notions of nationhood and liberal development have been disseminated so successfully in recent times that they have come to be viewed almost as ‘natural’. It is easy to forget how long and difficult the struggle has been to establish ideas of popular sovereignty and individual equality as universally applicable rights. For, as this book demonstrates, the rhetoric of the inclusive claims of liberty and equality that nationalism and other related movements promote is accompanied by the practice of exluding numerous classes, communities and individuals from precisely these claims. This happens to be the case both within, and across, nations. Indeed, the story of nationalism and of modern ‘civilization’ could scarcely have been written without such exclusions.

Several papers in this volume show how members of excluded groups can suffer from nationalism’s impatience with difference, and conclude with the hope of reforming the nation state. Yet their collective contributions also suggest that the concept of the essential, cultural nation—and perhaps therefore the idea of the nation itself, as it has been handed down to us—needs serious questioning; and with that of course the existing forms of the modern state.

Gyanendra Pandey was Professor of History at the University of Delhi from 1986 to 1998, before moving to his present position as Professor of History and Anthropology at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA.

Peter Geschiere taught History and Anthropology at the Free University (Amsterdam), the Erasmus University (Rotterdam) and the EHESS (Paris/Marseille). At present he is Professor of African Anthropology at Leiden University and the University of Amsterdam.

ISBN  81-7304-425-2   2003   304p.   Rs.500/Pounds 50

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