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Darjeeling ReconsideredHistories, Politics, Environments$
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Townsend Middleton and Sara Shneiderman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199483556

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199483556.001.0001

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Virtuous Movements and Dirty Politics

Virtuous Movements and Dirty Politics

The Art of Camouflage in Darjeeling

(p.113) 5 Virtuous Movements and Dirty Politics
Darjeeling Reconsidered

Miriam Wenner

Oxford University Press

This chapter is concerned with the relationships between virtue, immorality, and politics as they are contested and negotiated within the space of a statehood movement. It explores how political leaders in Darjeeling present themselves as virtuous despite being involved in ‘politics’, which is associated with morally despicable behaviour such as selfishness and corruption. At the heart of such camouflage stands the blurring of the boundaries between what counts as moral and immoral. Yet, leaders’ attempts to respond to idealist imaginations of the movement as untouched from ‘dirty’ politics prove difficult, not only because the constituents perceive their leaders to exploit the movement for private gain, but also because the need to distribute patronage forces them to make compromises with the very state government from which they demand autonomy. Whether the border between virtue and immorality has been transcended is subject to a continuous struggle over political authority and legitimacy.

Keywords:   ethics, politics, anti-politics, social movement, values, camouflage, reputation, legitimacy, corruption

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