Individuals and groups negotiate increasingly complex relationships between the local, the national and the global. Contested Spaces: Citizenship and Belonging in Contemporary Times focuses on the everyday experience of divided or contested allegiances, and foregrounds the experiential, the embodied and the emotional, while also examining the social and the cultural.
Divided into three sections, this volume is broadly grouped around the themes of exclusionary practices, experiences of identity, and gender. The first section opens with a powerful commentary on the practices deployed by the state to enforce adherence to a desired narrative of the nation-state. It goes on to show how the state uses the concept of ‘time’ in schooling practices as a means for the further marginalisation and exclusion of underprivileged subjects. It also demonstrates how immigrant and minority students experience processes of ‘othering’ in multicultural/ institutional context.
In discussing the question of identity, the second section analyses the role of the state and shows how immigrants, seeking to establish a legitimate place for themselves, have to constantly grapple with their dual allegiance. Issues of identity are reflected in art as well as where the state plays a role in either promoting or modifying folk art. Aesthetics, as a result, become embroiled with politics when traditional tribal art and craft become politicised—it may be deployed in protest, or co-opted to facilitate assimilation.
Section three variously examines the changing nature of masculinity in Sri Lanka and its relevance to the dynamics of conflict within the self and the nation; the Buddhist Medaw nuns of Myanmar, whose heightened asceticism to create an identity for themselves is co-opted by the state; and four films made by Muslim women in the West that seek to sensitise Western audiences about the war in Afghanistan by using an approach that valourises the West and denigrates Islam and Afghanistan.
Based on fieldwork in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Denmark, Canada and USA, this cross-cultural, multi-country study will be useful for students and scholars of sociology, political science, identity politics, diaspora and migration studies.
List of Figures
1. Introduction: The Dynamics of Citizenship
Meenakshi Thapan and Valerie Raoul
Exclusionary Practices Perpetuated through State Policies
2. Remembering and Contested Patriotism: Embodied Practices of the Sri Lankan Nation-State
3. Struggles Over ‘School Time’: Temporal Organisation
of Schooling in Nepal and Denmark
4. ‘Why Do I Not Belong?’ The Struggle for Integration
across Barriers of Race and Language in a
Embodiment, Language and the Experience of Identity
5. Citizenship, Immigration, and Embodiment:
Vietnamese Americans in North-Central Texas
6. Folk Art, State Patronage and the Constitution
of the Local
7. Frenchness on Trial in Canada: Language, Religion,
Race and Gender in Current Debates on
Immigration in Quebec
Gender, Identity and the State
8. Globalisation, Embourgeoisement and Violence:
Shifting Frames of Masculinity in Sinhala Discourse
Jani de Silva
9. The Politics of Gender Identity amongst Buddhist
Nuns in Myanmar
10. Imperialist Missions: Representing Muslims in the
War on Terror
Notes on the Contributors
Meenakshi Thapan is Professor of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics,University of Delhi.