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Idea of Nation-ness Through Literature


G.J.V. Prasad

NATION IN IMAGINATION: ESSAYS ON NATIONALISM, SUB-NATIONALISM AND NARRATION
Edited by C. Vijayasree , Meenakshi Mukherjee, Harish Trivedi and T. Vijay Kumar
Orient Longman, Hyderabad, 2007, pp. 274, Rs. 795.00

VOLUME XXXIV NUMBER 12 December 2010

Gayatri Spivak, Helen Tiffin, Aijaz Ahmadwith the opening batters like the first two and such a number three, the danger is that you may never get to see the others in action! But get you must, since this team of writers includes many more who would be part of a Worlds Eleven of Postcolonial Studies. This is one of the three volumes to come out of the veritable feast that was served in Hyderabad at an international conference in 2004a conference that was almost a tribute to Meenakshi Mukherjee, the leading Indian academic of contemporary times, the one who was at the centre of the changes that took place in the discipline of English Studies in our country, the one who was and is a model, though inimitable, for many of us. A number of leading scholars were at the conference because of her, in honour of her contribution to the field. The nation has been a staple of postcolonial studies for a long time now but its significance to our globalized world doesnt seem to diminish at allwith struggles for independence, and the need to assert sovereignty and assert national identity increasing rather than decreasing in fervour. In her introduction, C. Vijayasree points out that while erstwhile nationalists have questioned the nature of the nation that they fought for and tried to go beyond it, and while the erstwhile colonialists too have felt threatened by the Frankenstein-like monster that they had created (the third world nation) and tried to theorize their way beyond it, the post-nation world is nowhere in sight. She goes on to discuss the complex and contradictory nature of the term. The book is in two sectionsRe-imagining the Nation and De-centring the Nation. Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak, whose essay is the first among equals, is true to her name and argues for de-transcendentalizing nationalism while learning from Bengali tribal songs and practices. She argues for a comparatist approach that gives importance to multiple mother tongues and moves to the idea of regional clusters. This is a lucid essay that seems almost uncharacteristic of the writer! In her essay on Re-imagining Communities, Helen Tiffin makes out a case for an expanded, a truly civilized, humane imagination that includes the equal rights of animals in our idea of community. She points out how the idea of the superiority of the human has become naturalized and how contemporary writers and ...


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