In this book Processor Barnett analyzes a successful political movement in South India that used cultural nationalism as a positive force for change. By exploring the history of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party, the author provides a new perspective on political identity. In so doing, she challenges the interpretation of cultural nationalism as a product of atavistic and primordial forces that poses an inherent threat to the integrity of territorially defined nation-states and thus to the progress of modernization.
The founding of the DMK party in 1949, the author shows, was a turning point in the political history of Tamil Nadu, South India, because it ushered in the era of Tamil cultural nationalism. In the hands of the DMK, Tamil nationalism became an ideology of mass mobilization and thus shaped the articulation of political demands for a generation. The author analyzes the social, political, and economic factors that gave rise to cultural nationalism; the interplay between cultural nationalist leaders; and the role of cultural nationalism in a heterogeneous nation-state.
Originally published in 1976.
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