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Ideas and Identities

A Festschrift for Andre Liebich

Edited By Jaci Eisenberg and Davide Rodogno

This volume gathers contributions at the intersection of history and politics. The essays, covering such topics as diverse as Italian identity in the Tientsin concession, international refugee policies in the interwar period and after, and the myths and realities of the Ukrainian-Russian encounter in independent Ukraine, show that history provides better grounding as well as a more suitable paradigm for the study of politics than economics or other hard sciences. All of the contributors have a common link – doctoral work supervised and shaped by Professor Andre Liebich – but have since expanded widely in the world. Hence, the authors of this work at once share a common base and yet benefit from diverse viewpoints.
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Decolonizing Nationalism: Indian Postcolonial Scholars and Nationalist Thought: Anne-Sophie Bentz

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Decolonizing Nationalism: Indian Postcolonial Scholars and Nationalist Thought

ANNE-SOPHIE BENTZ

Introduction

This contribution looks at Indian postcolonial scholars’ thoughts on nation and nationalism.1 It starts with an examination of their criticisms of existing theories, following a chronological order and looking at both the projects underlying the theories and the methods employed by scholars of nationalism. Their main complaint is the fact that the scholars of nationalism under criticism are all Western thinkers who share the same set of knowledge. This central criticism is reminiscent of criticisms that postcolonial scholars have underlined regarding the production of knowledge itself. This is why I will engage with the alternative theories that Indian postcolonial scholars have developed, some very thorough, others more sketchy, bearing in mind the various – first and foremost, postcolonial – influences that have come into play.

What appears at first striking is that most Indian postcolonial scholars have, at some point, tried to make a contribution, however limited, to the question of nationalism: Gayatri Spivak has produced a short piece on nationalism; Partha Chatterjee, Homi Bhabha and, to a lesser extent, Gyan Prakash and Ashis Nandy have greatly contributed to our understanding of nationalist thought. And yet, leading scholars of nationalism seldom acknowledge such a contribution by, let alone such a debt to Indian postcolonial scholars.2 This may be largely due to the fact that ← 231 | 232 → they tend to focus on specific situations which rarely include postcolonial cases. As a consequence, most of...

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