By Swarupa Gupta
This publication reopens the controversy on colonial nationalisms, going past 'derivative', 'borrowed', political and modernist paradigms. It introduces the conceptual classification of samaj to illustrate how indigenous socio-cultural origins in Bengal interacted with late-colonial discourses to supply the thought of a kingdom. Samaj (a ancient society and an idea-in-practice) was once a domain for reconfiguring antecedents and negotiating fragmentation. Drawing on indigenous resources, this examine exhibits how caste, classification, ethnicity, zone and neighborhood have been refracted to conceptualise wider unities. The mapping of cultural continuities via swap enables a extra nuanced research of the ontology of nationhood, seeing it as relating to, yet greater than political nationalism. It outlines a clean paradigm for recalibrating postcolonial identities, supplying interpretive options to mediate fragmentation.
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Extra resources for Notions of Nationhood in Bengal: Perspectives on Samaj, c. 1867-1905 (Philosophy of History and Culture)
68 The swajati was taken to mean ‘nation’ defined in cultural terms. In the absence of a notion of or term for the state in abstract terms, there was no real concept of sovereignty objectively over territory and its citizens or subjects except in western vocabulary. This is why swajati was important, as something vested in the belonging-ness and identity of the people. It was therefore rather different from the political, judicial and juridical idea of nationalism. Cultural Aryan-ness The idea of cultural nationhood woven around samaj was lodged within an ideological nexus between the inclusive notion of cultural Aryan-ness and dharma.
It shows how specific aspects of cultural Aryan-ness were deployed and applied to the ‘lower orders’, to include particular groups among them within larger settings of unity. These aspects then provide a comparative index for analysing whether similar aspects (of cultural Aryan-ness) were applied to neighbouring ethnicities and to other Indians to frame an overall classificatory scheme which fed into the framework of samajik unity. In so far as certain groups among the ‘lower orders’ adhered to the cultural norms of Aryanism, they were included at specific (albeit often inferior) levels in the literati’s conception of samaj.
Bengal: Communities, Development and States (New Delhi: Manohar, ). 88 Susan Bayly, Caste, Society and Politics in India since the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ). 89 Sumanta Banerjee, The Parlour and the Street: Elite and Popular Culture in Nineteenth Century Calcutta (Calcutta: Seagull, ). introduction practices. Other groups, not sufficiently Hinduised (for instance, tribes such as the Santhals, and the untouchables) were excluded. By exploring such specifics, the chapter argues that colonial sociological dichotomies deployed to fix and freeze such categories were subtly transmuted in the literati’s contextual demarcations/exclusions as well as inclusions of the traditionally excluded.