ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From Ethnic to National

States, Nations, Sovereignty: Sri Lanka, India and the Tamil Eelam Movement by Sumantra Bose; Sage Publications, New Delhi, pp 236, Rs 145.
THE book under review is a fairly thoughtful attempt to understand the changing nuances that surround the notions of states, nations and sovereignty in contemporary times. This general exercise is grounded in an empirical analysis of the Tamil Eelam Movement in Sri Lanka, Bose has argued, quite consistently, that the movements that have grown out of ethnic nationalism, such as the Tamil Eelam Movement, have proved compelling enough to interrogate the accepted notions of states, nations and sovereignty. In fact, the core of this study has been situated around one paradoxical reality which could be placed thus. The state in several parts of the world is facing challenges from diverse kinds of secessionist movements. More often, these movements articulate the protest of marginalised social groups that rally under the banner of ethnicity, religion, tribe or region. Subsequently, such movements go as far as constructing their notionsof a nation in order to lay claim fur the status of sovereign statehood. In the process, ironically, they clamour to secede from the existing state to build a state for themselves. Apparently, such movements do lend to wreck the state from a short-term perspective. However, from a long-term perspective, they proceed to give legitimacy to the institution of the state. The story of the liberation struggle of the Tamil ethnic minority in Sri Lanka is unlikely to deviate from this general pattern.

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