The idea of citizenship today conveys a static dullness, a clerical certification, and a fixed sense of identity. By re-examining the relationship between citizenship and nationality, Where the Madness Lies redefines the multiple sources of identity that ordinary people contend with. Citizenship becomes a critical theatre where diverse identities crisscross to create new forms of meaning and interaction.
Drawing from years of on-ground reportage, extensive interviews and fieldwork, the book foregrounds the perspectives of ordinary, often marginalised Indians and their everyday negotiations to carve out a place in their own country.
The author makes poignant use of family histories, memories, experiences of migration and dislocation, and genealogies to expand upon the theme of identity. A series of compelling stories take readers from Shillong to Jalandhar, to Banaras, Guwahati, Hyderabad, and Hampi, using the voices of residents to inform us of what it means to be a citizen and ask: How does exclusion work? What does it mean to be an ‘Other’ in one’s own country?
Engaging and historically grounded, but built on multiple personal accounts, Where the Madness Lies persuades one to rethink the dominant imaginations of ‘Indianness’ and bring back a sense of plurality to the idea of an Indian. This book will offer invaluable insights to citizens, social scientists, and scholars in general to create new imaginaries of citizenship and democracy.
Kishalay Bhattacharjee is Professor and Dean, Jindal School of Journalism and Communication, and Director, New Imaginations. He is a senior journalist with over twenty years of experience reporting from India’s conflict zones. He has previously served as Resident Editor, New Delhi Television Ltd. (NDTV).
List of Tables ix
List of Abbreviations xi
1. The I of Identity 39
Genealogies from Sialkot, Sylhet, Mithila, Cannanore and Shillong
2. The City in Citizenship 76
Jalandhar, Banaras, Guwahati, Bhagnagar/Hyderabad and Hampi
3. Where the Madness Actually Lies 143
Kayas, Manipuris, Gorkhas, Indian Chinese, Coolies, Chakmas
4. The Notion of a Nation 159
Appendix: Timeline of Events, January 2020–December 2021 214
Annexure: Survey 245