Harvard South Asia Institute Book Talk
Niraja Jayal, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
Chair: Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Citizenship and Its Discontents explores a century of contestations over citizenship from the colonial period to the present, analyzing evolving conceptions of citizenship as legal status, as rights, and as identity. The early optimism that a new India could be fashioned out of an unequal and diverse society led to a formally inclusive legal membership, an impulse to social and economic rights, and group-differentiated citizenship. Today, these policies to create a civic community of equals are losing support in a climate of social intolerance and weak solidarity. Once seen by Western political scientists as an anomaly, India today is a site where every major theoretical debate about citizenship is being enacted in practice, and one that no global discussion of the subject can afford to ignore.