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Ahmed, Talat (2006) Literature and Politics in the Age of Nationalism: The Progressive Writers' Movement in South Asia 1932-1956. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis provides an account of the development of the Progressive Writers' Association (PWA) in South Asia. This body set itself the ambitious goal of mobilising South Asian writers and advancing the movement for independence by infusing it with social content. As such it was inspired by movements in Europe but was also inextricably linked to social and literary traditions that had already been developing in India. In this sense the PWA was embarking on a project for cultural hegemony that was as much a political and social movement as a literary one. Consequently, the movement was not solely concerned with questions of literature in a narrow sense but also with the public and political role of writers in society, with which language the nationalist movement should foster and the popularisation of its cultural and political aims through theatre and film. Previous studies of the movement have treated it far too narrowly as a simple front for communist aims. This was an important dimension of the movement that I account for but I see it as an attempt by some of the foremost intellectuals in the India of my period to shape the freedom movement and to project its vision for a wider society post-independence. This thesis argues that the PWA embarked upon a project for cultural and political hegemony whose aim was to transform the literary and wider cultural landscape of South Asia. It aims to demonstrate that the trajectory of this literary project can only be understood as part of a wider process of the global politics that were impacting on the intelligentsia. This thesis is an effort to understand the specific motivations and factors that influenced writers in one of the most turbulent periods of South Asian history. In investigating the interplay between literature and politics there is an assessment of the success and limitations of a cultural movement that aspired to hegemony.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:19

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