Society versus State in Assam<sup>1</sup>

Sanjib Baruah

in Durable Disorder

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780195690828
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081769 | DOI:
Society versus State in Assam1

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India’s experience with ‘nation-building’ has important implications for nationalism and the nation-state as they spread worldwide as modal forms. In the Indian subcontinent, where the historical legacy of state formation is characterized by intermittent tensions between the imperial state and regional kingdoms, nationalism and the nation-state appear to be unfortunate modern transplants. The politics of subnationalism can be discussed in relation to the theoretical space that is also known as civil society. ‘Ethnic polities’ of groups with a connection to a real or imagined homeland is part of the history of the emergence of the modern phenomenon of nationalism worldwide, and differs from the politics of identity that is not grounded in homelands. This chapter focuses on the recurrent politics of subnationalism in Assam, using the term ‘nationality’ rather than ethnic group to refer to the Assamese and the term ‘subnationalism’ to refer to their politics of ‘identity’. The author also discusses the music of Bhupen Hazarika which has a remarkable resonance with the national narratives of the Assamese.

Keywords: Assam; civil society; politics; subnationalism; nationalism; nationality; identity; ethnic polities; nation-state; Bhupen Hazarika

Chapter.  9175 words. 

Subjects: Indian Politics

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