Beyond Belief

9780822339847: Hardback
Release Date: 28th May 2007

9780822340010: Paperback
Release Date: 28th May 2007

9 illustrations

Dimensions: 156 x 241

Number of Pages: 264

Series Politics, History, and Culture

Duke University Press Books

Beyond Belief

India and the Politics of Postcolonial Nationalism

Hardback / £88.00
Paperback / £23.99

Beyond Belief is a bold rethinking of the formation and consolidation of nation-state ideologies. Analyzing India during the first two decades following its foundation as a sovereign nation-state in 1947, Srirupa Roy explores how nationalists are turned into nationals, subjects into citizens, and the colonial state into a sovereign nation-state. Roy argues that the postcolonial nation-state is consolidated not, as many have asserted, by efforts to imagine a shared cultural community, but rather by the production of a recognizable and authoritative identity for the state. This project—of making the state the entity identified as the nation’s authoritative representative—emphasizes the natural cultural diversity of the nation and upholds the state as the sole unifier or manager of the “naturally” fragmented nation; the state is unified through diversity.

Roy considers several different ways that identification with the Indian nation-state was produced and consolidated during the 1950s and 1960s. She looks at how the Films Division of India, a state-owned documentary and newsreel production agency, allowed national audiences to “see the state”; how the “unity in diversity” formation of nationhood was reinforced in commemorations of India’s annual Republic Day; and how the government produced a policy discourse claiming that scientific development was the ultimate national need and the most pressing priority for the state to address. She also analyzes the fate of the steel towns—industrial townships built to house the workers of nationalized steel plants—which were upheld as the exemplary national spaces of the new India. By prioritizing the role of actual manifestations of and encounters with the state, Roy moves beyond theories of nationalism and state formation based on collective belief.

Preface and Acknowledgments vii
Introduction. Imagining Institutions, Instituting Diversity: Toward a Theory of Nation-State Formation 1
1. Moving Pictures: The Films Division of India and the Visual Practices of the Nation-State 32
2. Marching in Time: Republic Day Parades and the Ritual Practices of the Nation-State 66
3. Indian Darkness: Science, Development, and the Needs Discourse of the Nation-State 105
4. Cities of Hope: Steel Townships and the Spatial Practices of the Nation-State 133
Conclusion. After Midnight 157
Notes 171
Bibliography 219
Index 237

Srirupa Roy is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is a coeditor of Violence and Democracy in India.

“Srirupa Roy offers fresh, innovative, and highly original perspectives on how the Indian nation-state set out to manufacture a national modernity and new ways of presenting itself. This is a much needed contribution to a critical assessment of the now quasi-mythical Nehruvian decades of postcolonial state formation from one of the best political scientists writing on India today.”—Thomas Blom Hansen, University of Amsterdam

“This book marks a departure in the study of Indian nationalism. Srirupa Roy’s idea that nationalism works not as a ‘belief’ but through practices that seek to ground the state deeply in the life of the people, is demonstrated here by archival and ethnographic explorations of specific sites: rituals and pageantry of the state, official newsreels and documentaries, planned scientific institutions and industrial cities. The result is fine-grained political analysis enriched at every turn by the author’s judicious use of history and ethnography.”—Dipesh Chakrabarty, author of Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies

“Srirupa Roy . . . has written an engaging and incisive study of the nation-building project in India. . . . Roy’s book is a welcome and original investigation into the origin and means of the national imagination of India.”

Simona Vittorini, Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism

“Srirupa Roy’s Beyond Belief is a superb contribution to the study of postcolonial nationalism and the complex lives of the postcolonial Indian nation-state. . . . [T]he book is an excellent and invaluable addition to the literature on Indian nationalism and the Indian nation-state as well as an important contribution to theories of nationalism, the state, and nation-state, and postcolonial studies. Lucid and concise, the book is extremely well written. Different methodological and disciplinary perspectives are employed in the text with rigor and carefulness to enrich one another.”

Rohit Chopra, H-Nationalism, H-Net Reviews