South Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - Re-imagining Indian Citizenship in a Postcolonial Context: Debates and Negotiations During and After the Commonwealth Negotiations (1947-1950s)

Saturday, July 7
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Silveroak II, Ground Floor

New historical scholarship has recently fueled fresh debates about the actual and imagined ends of Empires. Traditionally, nationalist historiography has promoted the teleological narrative according to which the nation-state and its characteristics were the natural outcome for colonies’ quest of self-rule, and the sudden result from gaining independence. New works, however, have questioned both of these ideas by examining how the passage from the Empire to nation-states was often a long transition of negotiations, and how nationalist leaders envisioned a plurality of political futures and conceptions of the nation and the state. In this line of inquiry, this paper analyses the complexities of the Commonwealth negotiations between the British government and a newly independent India on the question of citizenship. Citizenship, which is an issue of sovereignty, was then an important topic of debates, even though this is today forgotten. These debates illustrate how citizenship was re-imagined and re-conceptualised in the 1940s and the early 1950s in India. Drawing on archival documents, the paper will tease out the ambiguities, paradoxes, and conceptually innovative features of the various Indian proposals for a new kind of citizenship in relation to the Commonwealth. These proposals reflected both practical concerns and a desire to break hierarchies in the international system.

Send Email for Raphaelle Khan


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2 - Re-imagining Indian Citizenship in a Postcolonial Context: Debates and Negotiations During and After the Commonwealth Negotiations (1947-1950s)



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