Antinomies of Secularism

Aditya Nigam

in The Insurrection of Little Selves

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195676068
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081752 | DOI:
Antinomies of Secularism

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This chapter examines the Indian debate on secularism and argues that, despite sharp ideological polarizations between the different positions, certain areas of agreement exist between them. In general, the differences relate to different conceptions of what is meant by secularism in India. There was a period that lasted until the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the nationalist imaginary and the secular-nationalist discourse fashioned in the course of the national movement remained hegemonic. Three decades later, the inherited idea of nationhood was seriously challenged by all sides. This is the conjuncture within which this chapter locates the debate on secularism. It argues that this debate is an important entry point into the problem of nation-building itself. At the heart of the question of secularism is the problem of India’s colonial modernity. What was expected to be the resurgence of Hindu ‘revivalism’ did not find itself uncomfortable with a secular-modernist self-representation.

Keywords: secularism; secular-nationalism; India; nationhood; nation-building; modernity; Hindu revivalism

Chapter.  15905 words. 

Subjects: Indian Politics

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