Certain India : An enquiry into a claim to national territory

Grant, William John (2007). Certain India : An enquiry into a claim to national territory PhD Thesis, School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland.

       
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Author Grant, William John
Thesis Title Certain India : An enquiry into a claim to national territory
School, Centre or Institute School of Political Science and International Studies
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Alexander Bellamy
Abstract/Summary In both intimate and abstract encounters, India is today understood as a land certain, and a land connected naturally with the Indian nation. India is, for many, a land visible in the physical world, a land visible on the world map, and a land the exclusive political domain of a definable group of people. This was not always the case. This thesis enquires into the circumstances and campaign that have made it so; this thesis enquires into the claim to national territory in India. Specifically, I seek in this work to explain how the land between the Himalayas and the Indian Ocean has been produced as the national territory of the Indian nation, and how this national territory is understood by these nationalists. To conduct this enquiry, I take in this work two broad steps: the construction of a framework within which we can theoretically situate the Indian national territory, and the application of this framework to the specifics of the case at hand. To construct the required theoretical framework, I turn first away from the Indian national territory to the more abstract phenomenon of the national territory in general, and to theoretical literature against which this more abstract national territory in general can be situated. In this, I turn to both theoretical works on nations and nationalism, and theoretical works on space. Here I suggest that we can theoretically situate the abstract national territory in general against both our understanding of the essence of the nation and our understanding of the essence of space; that the national territory is both one element of that which is of the nation, and one particular form of space. Located in this way, I argue in this work that the national territory is a form of space emergent in the intersection of the highly abstract, disembodied forms of knowledge of the physical dominant with the onset of modernity, and knowledge of the physical derived from forms of integration more intimate, particular and local. I argue, more precisely, that the national territory is a form of space produced through both the emergence to dominance of highly abstract forms of knowledge of the physical, and the renegotiation of these dominant forms according to interests and understandings more intimate and particular. From this point, I then proceed to locate and describe the specifics of the production and understanding of the Indian national territory. To do this, I draw on the theoretical framework constructed in the first part of the thesis to trace the emergence to dominance in southern Asia of highly abstract, disembodied forms of knowledge of the physical, and, following this, the response to this derived from the more intimate forms of knowledge of the physical marginalised by this emergence. Thus in this second step I chart first the emergence to dominance of highly abstract forms of knowledge of the physical in southern Asia. In this I look in particular at the forms of social integration and knowledge of the physical that emerged to dominance under the British Empire. Following this, I then trace the response to this emergence to dominance offered by two significant political perspectives: one of ‘secular Indian nationalism’, the other of ‘Hindu nationalism’. With this, I argue that the Indian national territory is a space which has been produced through the emergence to dominance in southern Asia of highly abstract, disembodied forms of knowledge of the physical, and the complicated and ongoing efforts to renegotiate this highly abstract knowledge according to interests and understandings more intimate and particular. The Indian national territory is understood, thanks to this production, as a land natural and concrete, eternal and certain, in both embodied locales and the world at large; a land, that is, for which people have willingly died.

 
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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 15:39:29 EST