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4 - Nation-Building and Nationalism in Bengali Children's Literature during the 1940s and 1950s

from Part One - Consumption on the Home Front

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2017

Nupur Chaudhuri
Affiliation:
teaches British and European History at Texas Southern University.
Mark J. Crowley
Affiliation:
Wuhan University, China
Sandra Trudgen Dawson
Affiliation:
University of Maryland, College Park
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Summary

NATIONALISM and nation-building in various countries have been the focus of many books and articles in recent decades. These works show that, in modern times, the strong force of nationalism catalysed the emergence of new nations within the global landscape, providing the framework for the future growth of the nations that gained independence from Britain after the Second World War, and subsequently the fertile ground for the development of nationalism. However, nationalism is a complex concept. It can be expressed in different ways and styles, and can occur at different times before finally becoming grounded. The complexities of nationalism were intensified by the Second World War. It destabilized colonialism and left imperial states such as Britain fractured and weakened. However, in some circles, nationalism has been defined as resisting domination or the dominant beliefs of the established elites. Quite often, the growth of nationalism in the context of imperialism complicates the concept of nationalism by introducing categories of gender and race. This was the case in the Indian subcontinent, where resistance to domination and dominant beliefs was quite common. The histories of resistance impacted nation-building in India after independence from the British after the Second World War.

The nation-building that follows the success of nationalism is a vitally important phase in the growth of a nation. A sense of nationalism remains active in this phase and throughout the nation's life. The active nationalism in the nationbuilding process, at the nascent stage of the nation, is at least in part defined by the socio-cultural experiences of the people involved in its ‘grand plan’. How the nation-building process is shaped may well be traced by considering numerous contemporary published literary documents, each of which may project different lights on the constitutive organs of the body of nationalism that continue as a viable force in the development of the nation. A fruitful insight into the force of nationalism at play that shaped the very early phase of a nation's growth may be gained by examining specific writings that appeared in some regions of India immediately following independence from the British on 15 August 1947.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2017

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