Navigating the nation and positioning the Other: Undergraduate students' experiences with caste, class, gender, and communalism in Bangalore, India
Aranha, Rima Marina
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This dissertation explores the idea of national belonging, held amongst Indian youth in general, and male and female college students in an urban city in particular, to examine the multiple ways in which social and cultural dynamics (e.g., communalism, gender, class, and caste) interact with their idea of nation. It analyses the data gathered through ethnographic interviews at two colleges—one, an elite, middle-class college, and the other, a lower- middle-class college, in Bangalore city, the capital of the state of Karnataka, popularly known as the Silicon Valley of India. My dissertation is concerned with the ways in which young people in globalizing urban India are struggling with what it means to be Indian. However, this speaks differently to young people situated differently on the caste, class, and gender axis, and these social positions intersect with each other, at different points in time, and in different locations, to bring forth a complex imaginary of nation in India. It is these various kinds of positionings, I would argue, that lead young people to navigate and go back and forth between a "diverse Indianness" and a "common Indianness," so as to make their sense of Indianness possible in the Indian nation. My study also argues that the issues that emerge in these young people's narratives about nationhood and the Others around them have arisen from their "routine-ness," in the everyday lives of everyday people within a globalizing Indian nation. Thus, one does not have to travel far—to nationalist organizations, battles, wars—to examine the ways in which violence, protectiveness, and respectability construct and circulate themselves within nations. I would contend that it is within everyday spaces—of difference, resentment, and change—that one can begin to unpack the multiple, diverse versions of Indianness.