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Punjab ReconsideredHistory, Culture, and Practice$
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Anshu Malhotra and Farina Mir

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780198078012

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198078012.001.0001

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Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh

A Politics of Death and Hope

(p.377) 13 Bhagat Singh
Punjab Reconsidered

Simona Sawhney

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by noting some structural similarities between contemporary ‘terrorists’ in Lahore and the celebrated Punjabi ‘extremist’ Bhagat Singh (1907-1931) and his comrades. It proposes, however, that the discursive world inhabited by Bhagat Singh differed significantly from the one available to death-driven youth in Punjab today. Examining the centrality of two elements, hope and death, in Bhagat Singh’s work, the chapter suggests that Bhagat Singh’s existential approach to politics was linked to a quintessentially modern figure of the ‘world’ — a figure that had become an object of immense concern and love. It goes on to contend that the hopeful actions of Bhagat Singh and his comrades can only be understood in relation to international communist and anarchist movements, and hence to a deeply divided West. Conversely, the internal consolidation of the West in our times has sharply constricted, all over the globe, the ability to imagine new worlds and communities.

Keywords:   Bhagat Singh, Lahore, existential, communism, anarchism, terrorists, hope, death, Lajwanti Rama Krishna

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