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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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The Promise of Class Analysis in Understanding Nepali National Identity in Darjeeling

The Promise of Class Analysis in Understanding Nepali National Identity in Darjeeling

An Engagement with Kumar Pradhan’s Work and Thought

Chapter:
(p.177) 8 The Promise of Class Analysis in Understanding Nepali National Identity in Darjeeling
Source:
Darjeeling Reconsidered
Author(s):

Swatahsiddha Sarkar

Babika Khawas

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199483556.003.0009

The class question of Nepali identity in Darjeeling lacks adequate attention, except in the writings of historian Kumar Pradhan. Pradhan has emphasized class as the primary factor that reinforced national unity among the Indian Nepalis (i.e. ‘Gorkhas’) settled in Darjeeling. This chapter explores the interstices between class and culture in order to illustrate how community solidarity rather than class polarization galvanized the pan-ethnic Gorkhas of Darjeeling. The chapter draws on Marxian class analysis with a Weberian tint to conceptually situate the perennial problem of Gorkha identity. Putting Darjeeling, Pradhan’s work, and social theory into dialogue, the chapter shows how the identity question in Darjeeling calls for a new program of research. Situating Pradhan in his life and time, the chapter concludes by asking what lessons one can draw from his proposals in understanding related questions of nationalism, federalism, and pan-ethnic unity across the Indo-Nepal border in the twenty-first century.

Keywords:   Class, ethnicity, nation, nationalism, mobility, closure, identity, discrimination, janajati, Gorkha

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