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

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Maithili’s Resistance to Hindi’s Hegemony and Undemocratic Nationalism

Language Politics and Public Sphere in North India: Making of the Maithili Movement by Mithilesh Kumar Jha, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2017; pp 368, ₹ 1,195.

Mithilesh Kumar Jha’s Language Politics and Public Sphere in North India: Making of the Maithili Movement has been published by the Oxford University Press five years after he defended his doctoral dissertation, “Language Politics and the Construction of ‘Dialects’: A Case Study of Maithili,” under the supervision of Pradip Kumar Datta, at the University of Delhi. After the publication of two seminal studies in the 1970s (Brass 1974; Jha 1976), the cultural subjectivity and political consciousness of Mithila, particularly the pluralistic and diverse backgrounds of its speakers and leaders, has received little attention (for notable exceptions, see Singh 1980; Burghart 1993; Jha 1996; Kumar 2013; Davis 2014; Rorabacher 2017). Furthermore, the inclusion of Maithili in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution in 2003 and the Interim Constitution of Nepal in 2007 exposed the outdated and inadequate nature of most previous reflections and analyses of the Maithili movement. Against this backdrop, Jha’s book is a timely and valuable contribution to the study of literary and political cultures in South Asia.

The introduction of the book offers an instructive overview of some of the most resilient ideas, concepts, and theories deployed in the field of literary and political studies in India. Among the three dozen scholars who appear in the main body and endnotes of the introduction, a handful of them resurface in the other chapters of the book and contribute directly to Jha’s analysis of the Maithili movement. By casting a wide range of critical ideas, expository themes, and theoretical concerns, Jha grapples with the challenge of exploring the history of modern print, nationalist ideologies, colonial modernity, and vernacular politics in India.

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Updated On : 21st Nov, 2018
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