Minorities in South Asia and in Europe A New Agenda -Edited by Samir Kumar Das

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THIS BOOK INTENDS to study minorities of South Asia and Europe from a comparative and transnational perspective.While country-specific studies in minorities are by no means
rare, their comparisons within a region (like South Asia and Europe) or across them are almost non-existent. This is so
because the history of the formation of minorities in many ways coincides with that of the formation of nation-states in
both these regions. As modern states emerge and their boundaries are drawn in fairly neat and precise terms, minorities are created, if not ‘trapped’ and’colonized’, within them.’ International boundaries have often been drawn both in postcolonial South Asia or in post-war Europe in ways that have not only dismembered the hitherto homogeneous
groups into minorities dispersed over two or more nation-states but also brought about newer sources of division
amongst them. Insofar as they operate within two or more national milieus, each distinct from the other, they get configured in similarly distinct ways. Minorities, as we will see,are ‘minorities’ only with reference to the national body
within which they constitute themselves as minorities. Contemporary writings on the emergence of modern nations in
different parts of the world particularly in Southeast Asia point out how nations played a great role in liberating them
and delivering them from the medieval evils of minority intimidation and persecution. Modern minorities are the product of nationalist discourse. For, it is in relation to that body that one is a majority or for that matter a minority.Unlike in the modern times, minorities in the Middle Ages were called so insofar as they were perceived as a threat to the sovereign-an emperor, a king or a sultan-and the aristocracy. While sovereignty now circulates within the national body, sovereignty during the Middle Ages, as Foucault’s monumental work tells us, was concentrated in the person of the sovereign. Modern minorities in that sense are part of the sovereign and those who refuse to be identified with them, either with the majority or with the minority, as it were do not exist. They are the people—who in the parlance of contemporary radical theory-may be ‘killed with impunity’.Such homogenizations of geopolitical space achieved in Western Europe during early modern times and in South Asia after decolonization hardly leave room for non-national minorities.

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