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The University of Southampton
The India Centre for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development

Language and the Making of Modern India: Nationalism and Vernacularity In Colonial Odisha (1803-1956) Event

Dr Pritipuspa Mishra
13:00 - 14:30
6 March 2020
Southampton Business School (Building 2, 3043), University Of Southampton, Highfield Campus, SO17 1BJ

Event details

Based on a history of the making of the first linguistically organized province in India, Odisha, this paper argues that rather than disrupting the rise and spread of All-India nationalism, regional linguistic nationalism enabled and deepened the reach of Indian Nationalism in provincial India. As regional India came to be linguistically defined in the twentieth century, regional languages came to serve as the most acceptable registers of difference in Post-colonial India. However, this positive narrative of the resolution of the Indian multilingualism needs to be interrupted by attention to cost of such a linguistic division of India. By using the case of the Adivasis of Odisha who comprise of almost a quarter of the population, I illustrate how regional languages in India came to occupy a curiously hegemonic position in post-colonial India. This history allows us to rethink our understanding of the vernacular in India as a powerless medium and acknowledge their institutional power.

Speaker information

Dr Pritipuspa Mishra, an Associate Professor in History at the University of Southampton. A historian of modern India, she works on cultural and intellectual history of nineteenth and twentieth century India with a primary focus on Indian language archives. Her work has been funded by prestigious fellowships from the American Institute of Indian Studies and Princeton University. Apart from the history of India, she is engaged in interdisciplinary scholarship on language, nationalism and linguistic justice.

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