Imagined Communities of Language before and after Democracy—Problems and Perspectives from Orissa
This chapter sets forth the starting premise of this book–if Orissa was historically disadvantaged by administrative disunity, different patterns of rule in its constituent areas, and powerful cleavages between hill and coast, caste and tribe, British and Princely areas, and if such diversity made any pan-regional identity extremely difficult to forge, then how was Orissa able to pioneer the politics of linguistic regionalism under colonial rule, and to become, in fact, the first linguistic state of modern India in 1936? It then gives a brief overview of the social and political circumstances in the early twentieth century that made it possible to sustain an ‘imagined community’ of language. This is followed by an examination of the chequered career of this discursive construct in the period of postcolonial democracy.
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