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The tensions over liberal citizenship in a Marxist revolutionary situation: the Maoists in India

Shah, Alpa (2013) The tensions over liberal citizenship in a Marxist revolutionary situation: the Maoists in India. Critique of Anthropology, 33 (1). pp. 91-109. ISSN 0308-275X

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0308275X12466679


In recent years, liberal concepts of citizenship have been appropriated in the Indian subcontinent by various sections of the urban bourgeoisie, in particular, left-leaning intellectuals and activists, to make claims off the state on behalf of their poorer rural (sometimes urban) counterparts. In the context of the struggle between the Indian Government and the Maoist revolution, citizenship has provided a convenient means for civil liberties groups to articulate a notion of 'the people' as set apart from both the actions and practices of the Indian Government as well as the Maoist revolutionaries, while at the same time promoting the reach of the Indian state. Life in Maoist areas, however, reveals the blurred boundaries between the villagers and the Maoists, the historic alienation of the state from people's lives, and as such the limits of liberal notions of citizenship, as evoked by the citizen's rights activists, to analyse the potential of people's relation with the polity. The paper suggests that this liberal concept of citizenship paradoxically both enables but also perhaps potentially limits the space for a more radical politics. As proponents of an extreme left politics, the paper also critically focuses on Maoist tactics in showing up the state and its responsibilities to its citizens, reflecting on the implications of these tactics for their Marxian utopia and the future relationship between the individual and the state in a communist society.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 The Author
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2013 09:43
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2014 08:10

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