You are here

Ethnic Activism and Civil Society in South Asia

Ethnic Activism and Civil Society in South Asia

First Edition
Edited by:
  • David Gellner - Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, UK

September 2009 | 376 pages | SAGE India
This volume, the second in the Governance, Conflict, and Civic Action series, examines civil society in South Asia through case studies of different kinds of ethnic ('communal') activism. With chapters covering Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India (Darjeeling, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Tamil Nadu), it avoids the 'methodological nationalism' so frequent in social science publications on the region. The articles examine Hindu nationalism, Dalit activism in India and Nepal, and the Janajati movement in Nepal, and show how they are animated by common ideals and themes, such as emphasis on the involvement of youth, the assertion of pride and masculinity, the desire to resist injustice and reassess previously stigmatized symbols, the importance of land and belonging, and so on.

South Asian civil society is a site of constant struggle. This volume shows how ethnic activists wrestle with official classifications and the categories of daily, traditional practices and attempt to turn these to their advantage, often bringing about radical social, political, and intellectual change as a result. It also argues that ethnic movements need to be investigated by social scientists as a part of civil society, and it shows how this can be done.

Ethnic Activism and Civil Society in South Asia will be an ideal reference for those interested in ethnicity, sociology, political science, anthropology, and South Asian studies.

David N Gellner
Introduction: How Civil are 'Communal' and Ethno-nationalist Movements?
Minoru Mio
Young Men's Public Activities and Hindu Nationalism: Naviyuvak Mandals and the Sangh Parivar in a Western Indian Town
Peggy Froerer
Activists and Adivasis: Hindu Nationalist Militants in Chhattisgarh, Central India
Eva Gerharz
Re-constructing Jaffna: Transnational Tamil Activism at Local Interfaces
Sara B Shneiderman
Ethnic (P)reservations: Comparing Thangmi Ethnic Activism in Nepal and India
Hugo Gorringe
Becoming a Dalit Panther: Caste-based Activism in South India
David Mosse
Christian Dalit Activism in Contemporary Tamil Nadu
Laurie Ann Vasily
Struggles against Domination: Forms of Nepali Dalit Activism
Gisèle Krauskopff
Intellectuals and Ethnic Activism: Writings on the Tharu Past
Mukta S Tamang
Tamang Activism, History, and Territorial Consciousness
Marie Lecomte-Tilouine
Ruling Social Groups-from Species to Nations: Reflections on Changing Conceptualizations of Caste and Ethnicity in Nepal
Glossary and Abbreviations

This book is a valuable collection of essays which looks at the multi-faceted interactions between ethnic activism, civil society and states in South Asia, particularly India and Nepal and the several tensions and contradictions that characterize these interactions. It is a valuable ethnographic study of the internal dynamics (and their interaction with external dynamics) that shape and mutate ethnic identities in the sub-continent…. Ethnic Activism and Civil Society in South Asia will be useful not just to sociologists, but also political scientists who may be unable to see the multitude currents of ethnic tension that run beneath political waters. It will also be of interest and use to those involved in the study of ethnicity, anthropology, and more broadly, the South Asian region.

Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies

These are six well-researched articles on ethnic activism in South Asia. A fairly wide range has been examined…. At a time when South Asia is bubbling over with ethnic aspirations, this is an important collection of contemporary insights into the politics of identity behind activism in South Asia.

Civil Society

The volume…takes a bold and clear but contentious position…. This volume would be of interest to the students of civil society, ethnicity and politics. One appreciable thing…is the uniformly lucid style of presentation of rich empirical material and conceptual issues in the entire volume, which is rare to find in an edited book.

Sociological Bulletin

The book is a must-read for those who maintain a profound interest in civil society issues and, yes, it should be sought out by young men and women desirous of becoming activists themselves…the book offers rare insight and a definitive sense of the road we can take for energising social activism.


For instructors

Please contact your Academic Consultant to check inspection copy availability for your course.

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9788132100867

SAGE Knowledge is the premier social sciences platform for SAGE and CQ Press book, reference and video content.

The platform allows researchers to cross-search and seamlessly access a wide breadth of must-have SAGE book and reference content from one source.