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At the MarginsDiscourses of Development, Democracy, and Regionalism in Orissa$
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Jayanta Sengupta

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198099154

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198099154.001.0001

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Race, Culture, Language, and ‘Backwardness’

Race, Culture, Language, and ‘Backwardness’

Writing the Oriya ‘People’ into the Oriya ‘Nation’, 1900–20

(p.83) Chapter Two Race, Culture, Language, and ‘Backwardness’
At the Margins

Jayanta Sengupta

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the cultural politics of Oriya linguistic nationalism in the early-twentieth century by delving into Oriya print-culture and its key contribution to the making of an Oriya ‘public’ that in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries came to see themselves as having a separate history, culture, politics, and identity. It then traces how this public responded to the perceived threat of Bengali ‘sub-colonialism’ and the predicament of administrative disunity by seeking to make the Oriya language the key element in the construction of an undifferentiated cultural community. This construction defined the linguistic community in terms – of historical ancestry and common culture – which made class irrelevant. The key role accorded in its rhetoric to ‘race’ and ‘language’ enabled it to appeal to the ‘nation-building’ imperatives of colonial constitutional reform in the twentieth century, and to move by its own volition towards a demand for territorial unity and provincial autonomy.

Keywords:   cultural politics, language, community, race, public, print-culture, backwardness, territoriality, autonomy

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