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Language and the Making of Modern India
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Book description

Through an examination of the creation of the first linguistically organized province in India, Odisha, Pritipuspa Mishra explores the ways regional languages came to serve as the most acceptable registers of difference in post-colonial India. She argues that rather than disrupting the rise and spread of All-India nationalism, regional linguistic nationalism enabled and deepened the reach of nationalism in provincial India. Yet this positive narrative of the resolution of Indian multilingualism ignores the cost of linguistic division. Examining the case of the Adivasis of Odisha, Mishra shows how regional languages in India have come to occupy a curiously hegemonic position. Her study pushes us to rethink our understanding of the vernacular in India as a powerless medium and acknowledges the institutional power of language, contributing to global debates about linguistic justice and the governance of multilingualism. This title is also available as Open Access.


‘This sweeping study clarifies our understanding of the role of language and authority in the Indian nation through Odia speakers' use of literature, education, politics, and identity. Anyone interested in the intersection of language politics and culture, along with its ties to nation and territory, should read Mishra's book.'

Rosina Lozano - Princeton University, New Jersey

‘Intensely engaging, lucidly written and carefully drawn upon rich archival, historical and literary sources, Mishra presents a set of compelling arguments and theoretical insights while analysing the six decades of Odisha as a linguistic state formation. Language and the Making of Modern India shows how regional and national formations are not opposed but reproduce each other in multiple ways.'

Asha Sarangi - Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

‘Language and the Making of Modern India will be valuable to scholars of Indian vernacular politics, regionalism, nationalism, and citizenship. Mishra's is a pioneering study that shows how regional linguistic politics are crucial to understanding the history of citizenship in modern India, and how language became the crucial grounds for the constitution of the Indian national subject.'

Farina Mir - University of Michigan

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Full book PDF
  • Language and the Making of Modern India
    pp i-ii
  • Copyright page
    pp iv-iv
  • Dedication
    pp v-vi
  • Contents
    pp vii-vii
  • Maps
    pp viii-viii
  • Acknowledgments
    pp ix-xi
  • Additional material
    pp xii-xii
  • Introduction
    pp 1-30
  • Nation in the Vernacular
  • 1 - How the Vernacular Became Regional
    pp 31-75
  • 2 - Vernacular Publics: A Modern Odia Readership Imagined
    pp 76-105
  • 3 - The Odia Political Subject and the Rise of the Odia Movement
    pp 106-151
  • 4 - Odisha as Vernacular Homeland
    pp 152-169
  • 5 - The Invisible Minority: History and the Problem of the Adivasi
    pp 170-197
  • 6 - The Genius of India: Linguistic Difference, Regionalism, and the Indian Nation
    pp 198-225
  • Postscript
    pp 226-232
  • Bibliography
    pp 233-243
  • Index
    pp 244-248


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