Chapter 6 Pop Culture: A Vehicle of State Nationalism in India

In: Nationalism and the Postcolonial
Idreas Khandy
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Nationalism in a ‘world of nations’ has become embedded in the social fabric at microscopic levels. At a time when critics of nationalism are declaring it passé and celebrating the supposed circling of ‘the Owl of Minerva’ over nations and nationalism, the phenomenon has repeatedly proved its resilience and relevance. This chapter explores the relationship between nationalism, music, and pop culture in South Asia, specifically in the context of India. It argues that the representations of India’s state nationalism have reified a certain image of an Indian nation by using pop culture. Such discourse constructs India inherently as a Hindu nation that needs to be protected from threats, both internally and externally. The chapter focuses on Hindi cinema and music from the early 1950s to contemporary times to highlight how pop culture has been used by the Indian state not only to naturalise a hegemonic view of the Indian nation but also to unleash forces of intolerance and hatred in the country. The chapter also draws attention to how the rising Hindutva brand of Indian nationalism continues to use pop culture as it consolidates power in India.

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