Nationalism in the vernacular illuminates our understating of the relationship between orality and nationalist politics. Roluahpuia, the author, examines this at two levels through the case of the Mizos in northeast India. The first level centres around the creation of vernacular language and idioms, which reframes and reconstructs Mizo nationalist ideas and the politics of peace. The second level explicates the irrepressibility of oral vernacular idioms and practices against the state’s violent response to the Mizo nationalist movement. This brings into analytical focus the multiple oral forms of expression, such as party hla (party song), hnam hla (national song), and rambuai hla (songs of troubled times). Drawing both from the literate and non-literate sources, this study expands our understanding of nationalism beyond the elite and print culture. The vernacularization of nationalist ideas, idioms, and practices leverages people’s agency to construct their own sense and understanding of the nation. The book underscores that the vernacularisation of the nation is enabled by the participation of the elite as well as ordinary Mizos. Drawing upon in-depth interviews and archival materials gleaned from fieldwork spanning more than a year, Nationalism in the vernacular unravels the connection and circulation of nationalist ideas, and how these intersect with orality, vernacular idioms, and practices across borders and regions.
Dr. Roluahpuia obtained his Ph.D. from TISS, Guwahati. He has held teaching and fellow positions at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi, and IIT Guwahati, and he is currently serving as an Assistant Professor (Sociology) at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Roorkee. He was awarded the Arvind Raghunathan and Sribala Subramanian South Asia Visiting Fellowship, 2018-19, at the South Asia Institute, Harvard University, United States. His published work has appeared in noted journals, including Asian Ethnicity, Contemporary South Asia, Economic and Political Weekly, Himal South Asia, Journal of Borderlands Studies, Nations and Nationalism. His book titled Nationalism in the Vernacular: States, Tribes, and the Politics of Peace in Northeast India (2023) was published by Cambridge University Press. Dr. Puia’s research interest broadly covers, among others, identity, nationalism, development, and borderland studies