This panel focusses on the creation of newly empowered and empowering "centres" via nationalistic discourses in late colonial India, and the resulting generation of new margins that tended to fragment nationalist notions about the nation and its unity.
Nationalism in South Asia came into its own in the late colonial period, giving rise in the early twentieth century to patriotic rhetoric that cast identity, love for nation and self-rule in narrowly, and sometimes vaguely, defined terms. These discourses were universalizing at multiple levels, and cast India as a natural nation-state to better articulate a case for independence. However, the very strategy designed to unite diverse communities and empower disempowered peoples exposed internal dissonances arising from the contingencies of experience. The proposed panel explores how various political, cultural, and economic realities gave rise to complex personal and collective experiences of domination, resistance, and negotiation. Some papers explore how different "elite" groups negotiated the new structures of dominance and subordination constructed by discourses of nation. Others study instances wherein national fervour was used, explicitly and implicitly, to justify oppression. The panel as a whole emphasizes how the creation of newly empowered and empowering "centres" during the struggle for Indian independence generated new margins that fragmented nationalist notions about the nation and its unity.