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Chalmers, Rhoderick Alasdair Macdonald (2003) 'We Nepalis': Language, Literature and the Formation of a Nepali Public Sphere in India, 1914-1940. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis examines the processes which led to the emergence and development of a form of Nepali public sphere in India in the early twentieth century. It proposes that an analysis of the rational-critical modes of discourse adopted by this sphere, and their extension into areas of social, cultural and political institutionalisation offers the best way of understanding the formulation of a modern Nepali identity which has proved persuasive to this day. The central chapters focus on the way in which popular publishing built up both a large readership and the infrastructure which was adopted by more discursive journals; the contours, complexities and contradictions of the dominant rhetoric of social progress which they fuelled and propagated; the way in which rhetoric was incarnated in various organisations and social structures, and the extent to which social mobility allowed power relations to be redrawn while other paradigms of exclusion continued to delimit participation in public life; finally, it offers an assessment of the summation of these processes insofar as they contributed to the development of a clearly articulated, self-aware, and delimited sense of Nepali social consciousness and community belonging. This thesis is based on materials that have been almost entirely ignored by previous historical or literary studies, primarily published Nepali journals and books. It challenges many of the presumptions which underlie traditional approaches to the areas studied and offers specific critiques of a number of influential theorisations of Nepali history and society. At the heart of its analysis is a commitment to understanding the intellectual processes of community conceptualisation and rationalisation as they were experienced and expressed by Nepalis themselves in the period in question. This also entails a detailed dissection of issues of power and authority, of tendencies towards both contestation and the development of normative understandings, and, throughout, of the role of language in enabling and mediating these processes.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:28

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