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The Politics of Cultural Nationalism in South India

The Politics of Cultural Nationalism in South India

Copyright Date: 1976
Pages: 382
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    The Politics of Cultural Nationalism in South India
    Book Description:

    In this book Processor Barnett analyzes a successful political movement in South India that used cultural nationalism as a positive force for change. By exploring the history of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party, the author provides a new perspective on political identity. In so doing, she challenges the interpretation of cultural nationalism as a product of atavistic and primordial forces that poses an inherent threat to the integrity of territorially defined nation-states and thus to the progress of modernization.

    The founding of the DMK party in 1949, the author shows, was a turning point in the political history of Tamil Nadu, South India, because it ushered in the era of Tamil cultural nationalism. In the hands of the DMK, Tamil nationalism became an ideology of mass mobilization and thus shaped the articulation of political demands for a generation. The author analyzes the social, political, and economic factors that gave rise to cultural nationalism; the interplay between cultural nationalist leaders; and the role of cultural nationalism in a heterogeneous nation-state.

    Originally published in 1976.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6718-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. vi-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Tables, Figures, and Map
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    The founding of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (henceforth DMK) political party in 1949 was a turning point in the political history of Tamil Nadu,¹ south India, because it ushered in the era of Tamil cultural nationalism. Nationalism existed before 1949, but in nascent form, encompassed and overshadowed by other political themes. In the hands of the DMK, Tamil nationalism became an ideology of mass mobilization, and has shaped the articulation of political demands for a generation. In fact, to analyze Tamil nationalism is to probe the very dynamics of Tamil Nadu political development.

    More broadly, Tamil nationalism encapsulates the complexities,...

  7. PART I: Origins of Tamil Nationalism

    • CHAPTER TWO The Justice Party, the Non-Brahmin Movement, and Early Conceptions of Dravidian-ness
      (pp. 15-31)

      Many symbols associated with Tamil political identity reach deep into Tamil history and culture. Paradoxically, politicization of these ancient cultural symbols was a concommitant of social change associated with modernization. It is not my intention to recount here the complex history of this period, only to trace the origins of the particular ideology associated with the Dravidian movement.

      Madras Presidency politics in the early part of the twentieth century were dominated by the “Brahmin-non-Brahmin” conflict. During this early period, the caste identity of certain groups of elite non-Brahmins was challenged in the process of South Indian social change. Also, social...

    • CHAPTER THREE Developing the Politics of Radical Social Reform
      (pp. 32-55)

      In the preceding chapter, the rise of Dravidian ideology was related to the constraints facing a particular stratum of early twentieth-century Madras non-Brahmin society. From strains experienced by this stratum emerged the outlines of an ideology countering the Brahmanic Hindu tradition. With the founding of the Self-Respect League, these outlines were ramified into a more elaborate doctrine.

      The Self-Respect League was officially organized in 1925.¹ The publication ofKudi Arasuin 1924 by E. V. Ramasami² was, however, the first sustained attempt to propagate radical ideas of social reform. The militant tone of the Self-Respect movement was set at that...

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Dravida Kazhagam, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and Radical Politics in a Changing Political Arena
      (pp. 56-86)

      Radical Dravidian movement politics must be analyzed within the contex of the transformation of the political arena that took place during the 1940s in Madras Presidency. What emerged was a pattern of slow transformation of politics in Madras Presidency from the 1890s through 1940s. During the late nineteenth century, politics was very much a Brahmin enterprise that included a few forward non-Brahmin elites. While Brahmins became politically mobilized in the later nineteenth century, most forward non-Brahmin castes did not aggressively enter the political arena until the 1920s. Only during the 1940s did significant numbers of backward non-Brahmin castes demand a...

  8. PART II: The Politics of Emergent Nationalism

    • CHAPTER FIVE The DMK and Emergent Cultural Nationalism
      (pp. 89-117)

      The late 1950s and early 1960s mark the emergence of the politics of cultural nationalism and the mass internalization of Tamil identity. Not only did the DMK change from a political movement to a full-fledged party, contesting elections; the ideology changed from a radical challenge to core values underlying Hindu society and demands for establishment of a territorially separate polity to emphasis on reform within the existing (social, cultural, and political) system. Radical ideas of social reform (such as abolition of the caste system and destruction of Hinduism) were transformed to promoting “rationality”¹ in ritual observances and theology, “one God,...

    • CHAPTER SIX Politics of the Loyal Opposition
      (pp. 118-158)

      Between the 1962 and the 1967 general elections, the DMK increased its electoral support and enhanced its image as a responsible opposition. In the 1962 elections the DMK secured fifty seats in the Legislative Assembly, thus becoming the major opposition party. By 1967, the party captured the state government. At the same time that DMK support was increasing, the Congress party in Tamil Nadu was losing some of its capacity to mobilize or ally with emerging social and economic groups. The language issue in general, and the 1965 language riots in particular, were important factors discrediting Congress and increasing DMK...

  9. PART III: Elites, Masses, and Cultural Nationalism

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Tamil Nationalism and the Political Culture of the Tamil Nadu “Common Man”
      (pp. 161-186)

      Apart from the impact of economic modernization in creating discontinuities and discontent, which we have already examined, another related transformation was occuring in Tamil Nadu. This involved a structural change from caste to ethnicity, and laid the groundwork for the emergence of individualism in modern South Indian politics.

      Louis Dumont has argued that hierarchy and collectivism are the central defining characteristics of Indian society.¹ Linking these notions to politics, Dumont has explained Muslim nationalism in terms of the complex cultural distinctions and interactions between colonial British and pre-Independence Indian society. These cultural distinctions center on the notions of Indian hierarchy...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT DMK Political Leadership: the Men behind Tamil Nationalism
      (pp. 187-236)

      Three categories of leaders have been discussed in previous chapters. First, E. V. Ramasami and C. N. Annadurai, both exceptional men. They were political creators, commanded a special place in Tamil Nadu politics, and won a particularly intense response from their followers. Their decisions, strategies, and political perceptions have been key factors in shaping political events. The second category is the top leadership of the DMK: Karunanidhi, Nedunchezhian, Mathiazhagan, and so on: propagandists, organizers, and administrators. They have been important in mobilizing support, routinizing the movement, and administering party affairs.

      This chapter will discuss a third category: local-level DMK leadership....

  10. PART IV: Cultural Nationalism and Public Policy

    • CHAPTER NINE The DMK in Power: Contradictions of Cultural Nationalism in the Annadurai Era
      (pp. 239-281)

      BY 1967, when the DMK took office, Tamil nationalist ideology had a ramified ideological structure developed through a complex transformational process. Tamil nationalism was shared, at some level, by a wide segment of the population, including some Congress adherents. A talented leadership cadre existed, and the party had deep roots in modern Tamil Nadu political history. All of these factors—political leadership, mass perceptions, and the ideological structure of Tamil nationalism—converged in shaping DMK government action and public policy priorities once the DMK gained power.

      But there were also more immediate and compelling constraints within which policies and strategies...

    • CHAPTER TEN The DMK in Power: Contradictions of Cultural Nationalism in the Karunanidhi Era
      (pp. 282-313)

      After Annadurai’s death in 1969, Karunanidhi became chief minister and leader of the DMK. His assumption of leadership was based on solid support from a majority of the DMK MLA’s in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, and his influence in the party organization, particularly the General Council.

      The Karunanidhi era marks the seeming decline of the DMK, but the continuance of the Dravidian movement in the form of the Annadurai DMK (A-DMK), started after a factional split in the DMK led M. G. Ramachandran to form his own party. Because of the importance of this split to future Tamil Nadu...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Conclusion
      (pp. 314-328)

      At the outset, the notion that political identity was a direct translation of socio-cultural cleavage, a primordial “given” of social existence, was rejected. Rather the analytic focus was on the questions of what forces shape political identity? What factors lead to politicization of identity and can identities be “created,” transformed, or redefined? Cultural nationalism (often pejoratively labeled tribalism, communalism, regionalism, and so on) is often openly condemned by politicians, subtly derogated and relegated to transitional limbo by social scientists.

      But, false dichotomies between “civil” and “primordial” ties and blanket condemnations of cultural nationalism obscure and explain away rather than elucidate...

  11. APPENDIX A: Communal Representation of Gazetted and Non-Gazetted Officers in Province of Madras
    (pp. 330-331)
  12. APPENDIX B: Method for Sampling Party Leaders
    (pp. 332-336)
  13. APPENDIX C: DMK Organization
    (pp. 337-337)
  14. APPENDIX D: Questionnaire for Neighborhood Survey
    (pp. 338-344)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 345-358)
  16. Index
    (pp. 359-368)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 369-369)