Overview for Communal Identity in India: Its Construction and Articulation in the Twentieth Century
Communal identity is a matter of serious debate and discussion in contemporary India. Not only is the definition of community controversial, the processes of its formation are equally debatable. Identity is negotiated within an often volatile mix of influences hinging on nation, region, religion, gender, language, and citizenship. This collection acquaints the reader with issues that are central to the discourse on the construction of identity and its manifestations in reality, presenting key extracts in an increasingly urgent historiographical debate. The essays in this volume, the third in the Debates in Indian History and Society series, address the contested issue of community identities as they evolved historically in the course of the twentieth century in India. They explore both the circumstances and the forms in which identity, communal identity in particular, is recast in a transitional post-colonial society like India. Employing a two-pronged approach, they take into account theoretical inputs as well as historical circumstances that have moulded aspects of the debate. Ultimately, the volume reveals the folly in `essentialist' definitions of identity, a view particularly pertinent to India today, while concluding that communal identity, though imagined and constructed, is nevertheless not intangible.
Bidyut Chakrabarty (Editor)
Bidyut Chakrabarty, Professor of Political Science, University of Delhi.