Nation-Building and Nationalism: South Asia, 1947–90

Christophe Jaffrelot

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism

Published in print March 2013 | ISBN: 9780199209194
Published online May 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Nation-Building and Nationalism: South Asia, 1947–90

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  • History
  • Asian History
  • Contemporary History (Post 1945)



South Asia has been a true laboratory for the students of nation-building and nationalism. No other region has experienced two partitions of the magnitude of those of 1947 and 1971. Such a violent history did not stem from the religious and linguistic diversity of the Indian subcontinent—that would be a simplistic interpretation—but from the ideologies and strategies of political actors in India and Pakistan, the two countries on which this chapter focuses. In both places, two types of nationalism have been in competition: a multicultural one (epitomized by Gandhi, Nehru, and Jinnah) and an ethno-religious one (represented by the Hindu nationalists in India and the Islamic parties in Pakistan). In India, the second brand of nationalism has gained momentum at the expense of the first one from the 1980s. In Pakistan, in addition to the Islamization of politics by both civilians such as Z.A. Bhutto and generals like Zia-ul-Haq, ethno-linguistic nationalists have prevailed (as in East Bengal) or shown a remarkable resilience (as in Baluchistan and among the Mohajirs).

Keywords: India; Pakistan; Hindu nationalism; ethno-religious nationalism; ethno-linguistic nationalism; Islamization

Article.  9638 words. 

Subjects: History ; Asian History ; Contemporary History (Post 1945)

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