Bongitude and the Specification of Freedom
Both swaraj and swadeshi emerged in the context of nationalist discourses that set independence as a universal goal. This notion of independence derived its meaning from the empires that co-constituted modernity, and meant decolonization. Despite metaphors and other extensions, the little nationalisms within the Indian trans-nation have proved unable to postulate any sort of semi-sovereignty within the larger republic as a credible goal. This Bengal-focused study argues that sustainable autonomy cannot be promoted if all sub-nations are stampeded into ‘one size fits all’. Any ethnic community must take exonyms like ‘Bong’ on board and learn how to elude ethnographic museumization, how to fashion an explicitly contested interdependence with other stakeholders in a game of history that must go on even after the old nationalisms have crumbled. This paper’s interpretive methodology affirms the idiographic level, resists multiplying nomothetic moves beyond necessity, and targets positivism.
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