23 Brown J. World Aff. 239 (2016)
Nationalism as the Framework for Dalit Self-Realization

handle is hein.journals/brownjwa23 and id is 240 raw text is: 









Nationalism as the Framework

for Dalit Self-realization


              GOPAL GURU
              Professor of Social and Political Theory
              Jawaharlal Nehru University


THE CONSOLIDATION OF NATIONALIST ASPIRATIONS drives the formation of
national identity in most colonial and postcolonial cases. This process involves
a multifaceted struggle for self-definition in the presence of socially dominant
actors and an effort at self-realization among socially dominated sections of
society. Socially dominant actors shape the formation of a new nation. Follow-
ing independence, for instance, Indians had an opportunity to redefine their       239
sociocultural identity, which had become destabilized and saturated due to the
impact of colonialism. Nationalism, for the traditional social elite, denoted the
recovery of lost social prominence. Hence, the historical purpose of such an elite
found its expression in the nationalist struggle, articulated primarily against the
colonial configuration of power. On the other side of the spectrum, those who
are socially suppressed throughout history are driven by the normative need to
achieve self-realization: they are no longer a suppressed, silenced lot, but rather
an active and assertive subject of history. To put it differently, social groups such
as Dalits, who have been historically cast out of the framework of the public
sphere and forced to remain passive objects of history, view nationalism as an
opportunity to achieve self-realization as active subjects.
     Such groups thus require a nationalist space to foreground this self-realiza-

GoPAL GURU is Professor of Social and Political Theory at the Centre of Political Studies at Jawaharlal
Nehru University. Previously he was Professor at Delhi University and held the Mahatma Gandhi Profes-
sorial Chair at Pune University. He has also worked as a member of the Equal Opportunity Commission
within the Government of India. He is editor and author of Humiliation: Claims and Context (New Delhi:
Oxford University Press, 2009) and has written numerous articles on Dalits, women, social movements,
and Indian political philosophy.
Copyright  2016 by the Brown Journal of WorldAffairs


FALL/WINTER 2016 - VOLUME XXIII, ISSUE I

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