ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Where Does the Forest Begin?

The abduction of Kannada film hero Rajkumar by the forest brigand Veerappan has far exceeded the bounds of a familiar hostage crisis, instead revealing, clarifying and reconstituting the political sphere on both sides of Karnataka-Tamil border. Today more than three months after the abduction and with no clear end to the crisis, it is critical to take stock of this bizarre event, and its meanings within contemporary Indian political discourse. In the essays that follow, written before Rajkumar's release from captivity, three scholars from Karnataka, Madhava Prasad, Janaki Nair and Tejaswini Niranjana, offer their reflections on the event, on the history of Kannada nationalism and on the cultural productions that construct new meanings of the event, in an attempt to chart the emerging field of forces and its consequences for the shape of not just regional but national political life. In spite of its bizarre and irrational appearance, Rajkumar's abduction is a flash of lightning that reveals, momentarily, the makeshift hinges of the Indian political structure.

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